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Western Reef-egret Egretta gularis

This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: _the_WP15.xls.
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at:
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Taxonomic note
Egretta garzetta and E. dimorpha (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) have been lumped into E. garzetta following Kushlan and Hancock (2005) who also lump E. gularis with E. garzetta; this latter treatment is under review by the BirdLife Taxonomic Working Group.

Trend justification
The overall population trend is stable, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006).

Behaviour There is little known about the movements of this species (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, Kushlan and Hancock 2005), although it apparently disperses widely (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005) and may be partially migratory (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, Kushlan and Hancock 2005). It breeds between April and July or in October (del Hoyo et al. 1992) in solitary pairs, or more usually in small colonies of around 12 pairs (sometimes up to 100) (Brown et al. 1982). When not breeding the species is a solitary feeder, although it is occasionally found in small groups (Brown et al. 1982). It feeds diurnally, but also at night depending on the tides, and roosts at night in large numbers of between 500 and 1,000, in mangroves or on rocky cliffs and islets (Brown et al. 1982). Habitat The species shows a preference for rocky or sandy shores and reefs (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kushlan and Hancock 2005), but will also frequent other coastal habitats such as estuaries, mudflats, saltmarshes, mangroves, tidal creeks (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992) and lagoons (Brown et al. 1982). Diet The diet of this species consists mainly of fish, crustaceans and molluscs, but crickets, grubs and earthworms are also taken (Brown et al. 1982). Breeding site The species nests in solitary pairs or small colonies on the ground, or in reedbeds, bushes and mangrove trees up to 20 m high, as well as on ledges or boulders (del Hoyo et al. 1992), the nest being a platform of twigs and seaweed (Brown et al. 1982).

This species wasseriously persecuted and hunted for the plume trade in the past, but has since recovered (del Hoyo et al. 1992).

Brown, L. H.; Urban, E. K.; Newman, K. 1982. The birds of Africa vol I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Hancock, J.; Kushlan, J. 1984. The herons handbook. Croom Helm, London.

Kushlan, J. A.; Hancock, J. A. 2005. The herons. Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Egretta gularis. Downloaded from on 14/07/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 14/07/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Western reef-egret (Egretta gularis)

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Ardeidae (Herons and egrets)
Species name author (Bosc, 1792)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Stable
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,620,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species
- Climate change species distributions