Tricolored heron

Egretta tricolor

Photo: FWC

Overall vulnerability:

Very Low
lower vulnerability
higher vulnerability

Conservation status:

State Threatened

General Information

This mid-sized heron is named for its unique and lovely coloring. Tricolored herons have a slate-blue head and neck, a bright purple chest and a white underbelly. These birds occupy a wide range in Florida and beyond, from Massachusetts through Brazil. They are year-round residents of Florida, common in the peninsula and rarer in the panhandle of the state. Tricolored herons eat a diet primarily of fish and breed in colonies, after which females build nests in tree or shrubs found in their watery habitat.

Habitat Requirements

Tricolored herons reside in a wide variety of aquatic habitat types, including fresh, brackish, and saltwater swamps, estuaries, mangroves, lagoons and marshes.


Habitat area:

  • 4,188,604 hectares within Florida (modeled)
  • 2,165,508 hectares (52%) is located on public lands

Habitat impacted by up to 3 meters sea level rise:

22%1 meter39%3 meters61%not impacted

Climate Impacts

The tricolored heron is currently threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation in Florida and shifting land use linked to climate change is likely to intensify this threat, especially in coastal areas. The tricolored heron’s fresh and brackish water habitats are highly vulnerable to sea level rise and salt water encroachment. Although this species may be able to successfully adapt to changes in salinity, the quality of habitat and availability of prey may decline. Coastal armoring in response to sea level rise and extreme weather and disturbance events are also likely to negatively impact the species.

More information about general climate impacts to species in Florida.

Vulnerability Assessment(s)

The overall vulnerability level was based on the following assessment(s):

Adaptation Strategies

  • Addressing existing threats including conserving existing aquatic habitat from further development to the extent possible is an important first-line adaptation strategy for this species.
  • Protection of habitat corridors that allow the tricolored heron to move within patches of suitable habitat as natural climate-driven shifts occur may help this species adapt.

More information about adaptation strategies.

Additional Resources