This was a neat and distinctive bird that I saw while visiting the southeastern United States. Standing at around two feet tall, it is one of the smaller heron species.
Tricolored herons inhabit fresh and saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangrove swamps, lagoons and river deltas. They can be found from Massachusetts, down through the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, to northern Brazil.
This is a sleek, slender and distinctly-colored bird colored in blue-gray, lavender and white. The white stripe down the middle of its neck and its white belly set it apart from other dark herons.
Tricolored Herons forage for small fish such as topminnows and killifishes in open or semi-open brackish wetlands. They are skilled at stalking, chasing and standing-and-waiting to capture small fish.
Before striking, they draw in their neck and crouch down so low that their belly often touches the water. They also bend forward and push their wings over their head to entice fish to enter the shade provided by their wings.
Like its relatives, it builds stick nests in trees and shrubs, often in colonies with other wading birds. They typically breed on islands with small trees or shrubs.
The Tricolored Heron was formerly known as the Louisiana Heron.