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Overview

Comprehensive Description

There are two colour forms of the Eastern Reef Egret. The white form has a white body and wings, a yellow and grey bill, a bare face that is green-yellow, and dull yellow-grey legs. The dark form has a slate-grey body and wings, with a small white streak on the throat, the bill is slate-brown, and the legs are grey. The eyes of both forms are yellow.

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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Distribution

Subspecies and Distribution:


    *sacra (Gmelin, 1789) - coastal SE Asia to Japan, Indonesia, Philippines, SW & S Pacific, Australia, New Zealand. *albolineata (G. R. Gray, 1859) - New Caledonia, Loyalty Is.


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Source: Birds of Papua New Guinea

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Physical Description

Size

60-70 cm, 400 g

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Diagnostic Description

There are two colour forms of the Eastern Reef Egret. The white form has a white body and wings, a yellow and grey bill, a bare face that is green-yellow, and dull yellow-grey legs. The dark form has a slate-grey body and wings, with a small white streak on the throat, the bill is slate-brown, and the legs are grey. The eyes of both forms are yellow.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Marine
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Lives on beaches, rocky shores, tidal rivers and inlets, mangroves, and exposed coral reefs.

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Trophic Strategy

Hunt by both day and night for small fish, crustaceans and insects. They also invade colonies of nesting terns and steal fish brought in to feed to the young. It is often recognised by its feeding behaviour: it feeds in clear water and hunts its prey by stealth, by crouching low as it moves through shallow water or over rocks and coral.

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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Reproduction

Breeds throughout the year. The nests can be in trees in island woodlands, or on the ground under shrubs or rock ledges. The stick nest platform is lined with seaweed. Nesting occurs in single pairs or in small colonies. Both sexes incubate the eggs and the young remain in the nest for up to 6 weeks. Breeding season: September to January, but can breed year round. Clutch size: Two to three. Incubation: 28 days Time in nest: 40 days

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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has a very 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 is very large, and hence does not 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.
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Not Threatened.

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Population

Population
The global population is estimated to number 100,000-1,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while national population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs in Taiwan; c.100-10,000 breeding pairs and < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Korea and c.100-100,000 breeding pairs in Japan (Brazil 2009).

Population Trend
Stable
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Wikipedia

Pacific reef heron

The Pacific reef heron (Egretta sacra), also known as the eastern reef heron or eastern reef egret, is a kind of heron. They are found in many areas of Asia including the oceanic region of India, Southeast Asia, Japan, Polynesia, and in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.

Pacific reef herons are medium-sized herons, reaching 57 to 66 cm in length. They have a wingspan of between 90 and 110 cm and reach an average weight of 400 grams.

The species displays an unusual, non-sexual dimorphism, with some members having entirely white plumage and others (the larger portion) being charcoal-grey. The reason for the colour variation or "morph", is unknown, though it is most commonly thought to be related to camouflage.

Dark morph
The two colour morphs, Ko Tao, Thailand

Eastern reef egrets have very short, yellow legs, and the grey variety's throats and chins are marked by a narrow, white stripe. They have brown beaks, gold-yellow coloured eyes and the surrounding areas of their faces are normally of a greenish to yellow cast.

Their food sources are made up predominantly of varieties of ocean-based fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

The species lay clutches of eggs year round in colonies in the jungle, between palms and mangroves or in cavities of old buildings. Two to three paled greenish-blue eggs are laid in nests constructed from branches and blossoms. Males and females share brooding tasks. They normally have a 28-day brood period. After chicks are hatched, parents provide approximately 5 weeks of support.

Mooloolabah, Australia


References[edit]

Juvenile dark morph, Coral Bay, Western Australia
  • 1974: Bruce Campbell "The Dictionary of Birds in Colour", George Rainbird Ltd., London.
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