Looking south to Bathtub Reef Beach, south end of Hutchinson Island, Stuart, Florida this morning.
A heron appeared.
The blue-gray feathers were ever so slightly pinkish in the morning light and I wondered, is this a young Reddish Egret?
The pale eye caught my eye.
It was uncharacteristically mellow for a Reddish Egret. Maybe it had eaten breakfast already. Or it was wary of me and a few other people around. I did not go too close.
I even moved further out into the water and reef rocks to get the light on the feathers.
I wasn’t sure what it was, but knew I could check when I got home. So I just took a bunch of photos and enjoyed the morning sunshine, sparkling water and bird life.
Reddish Egrets are uncommon in this area. And they are the rarest egret species in North America.
They are a state-designated Threatened species.
Reportedly not seen in Florida between 1927 and 1937, but numbers have gradually increased under complete protection. Current United States population roughly 2000 pairs.
The Reddish Egret is the rarest and least known of the egrets and herons of North America. The species occurs within a narrow latitudinal range extending east from the Baja California peninsula, including the Gulf of California, the Yucatan Peninsula, the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico to peninsular Florida and islands in the Caribbean basin, namely Bahamas and Cuba. The global population is estimated to be 7,000-9,000 individuals, with 3,500 to 4,250 breeding pairs. The Reddish Egret represents an international resource, with Mexico and the U.S. supporting equally the bulk of the global breeding population, complemented by a number of Central American and Caribbean nations. Despite its broad range, the Reddish Egret occupies a restricted belt of coastal habitat, is patchily distributed and has a relatively small and declining global population. Accordingly there is broad international consensus that the Reddish Egret is in need of active conservation attention.
I feel lucky to have seen this bird today!