Egretta rufescens occurs in Baja California and disperses south along the Pacific coast of Mexico, but the majority are found in the Caribbean along the southern coast of the USA, through the Caribbean islands and down the Central American coast to northern Colombia and Venezuela. Surveys in western Mexico identified 39 breeding sites including eighteen nesting sites in Baja California Sur, eight in Sinaloa, six in Baja California, five in Sonora, and only two in Chiapas. The largest Mexican colony supports 258 breeding pairs while the average colony size was 35 pairs. The population estimate for the west coast of Mexico was between 954 and 1,260 breeding pairs (Palacios and Amador-Silva 2008). Numbers have not been collated for the entire Caribbean, but the following figures have been compiled: 1,000 pairs at Green Island, Texas, 200 - 300 pairs elsewhere in Texas, <200 pairs at Tamaulipas, Mexico (Laguna Madre), 50 pairs at Inagua, Bahamas and 50 pairs elsewhere in the Bahamas, and up to 200 pairs in Florida (Palacios and Amador-Silva 2008, S. Melville in litt. 2008). Accurate data are not available for other sites in the Caribbean, but latest information suggests it is a common resident (and migrant) throughout coastal Cuba and on many cays - 23 are listed with one, Cayo Fragoso noted as a breeding colony (A. Mitchell in litt. 2008); in the Dominican Republic it is considered a locally common breeding resident, and appears to be more common today than in the 1930's (R. RodrÃguez-Mojica in litt. 2008); in Puerto Rico it is reportedly very rare (R. RodrÃguez-Mojica in litt. 2008); 180 individuals were recorded at one site on the Yucatan in March 2006 demonstrating either that there are a lot more birds than previously thought to occur in the region or that it was a previously poorly recorded migrant (B. MacKinnon in litt. 2009); and finally data from BirdLife International's World Biodiversity Database of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) suggests that there may also be important numbers in Belize with up to c.5,000 resident individuals estimated from three IBAs in the country. This suggests a total of c.10,500-11,300 mature individuals with an unknown additional number in Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Population trends are not well understood; certainly the species seems to be increasing in parts of its range where it is well protected and has safe nesting sites, but declines are reported at the majority of sites.
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