Reddish Egrets are the rarest, and arguably the most beautiful, of the Florida herons. Once relatively common along the coastlines of Florida in the 19th century, plume hunters nearly eradicated the species from Florida by the early 20th century. Since the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Reddish Egret has been increasing in numbers in Florida, but after nearly 100 years, the population still has not fully recovered. It is estimated that there are less than 400 nesting pairs in the state, a population that may be about one tenth of the population in the mid-19th century. Most today can be found in the Florida Bay and Tampa Bay areas, with some also found at Merritt Island and elsewhere. They can be found in two morphs: a “dark” morph, which is more reddish in color, and a “white” morph.
Aside from their beauty, Reddish Egrets are also known for their feeding habits. Called “canopy feeding” by some, Reddish Egrets are often seen darting to and fro looking for food, and when they strike at their prey, they spread their wings to cast a shadow over the water. This of course makes them enjoyable to watch as well as spectacular to photograph.
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