Reddish Egrets – North Beach

Early Wednesday morning, Ed and I were treated to the sight of two beautiful Reddish Egrets actively feeding on North Beach. It’s a thrill to see one Reddish Egret at this time of the year, but two is fantastic! They are not common birds here in the Low Country, so it is always a great day when you see one.  It’s the rarest wading bird in North America. 

Mark Andrews has been spotting the Reddish Egrets since about mid-July, which is when they typically arrive. They stay with us into early October. The SC coastline is an important belt of coastal habitat for them. They breed south of us in FL, LA and TX. Our birds are migrants from “post breeding dispersal.”

Reddish Egrets are best distinguished by their feeding behavior, which involves spreading their wings to shade the fish and then running, spinning and flapping while chasing the fish through shallow water. Ed and I call it “dancing.” Seeing a Reddish doing its dance is like dangling a bright shiny object in front of Ed, photographing it will amuse him for hours! Lol!

They love to fish and feed in large tidal pools on the beach, and these were in the large tidal pool closest to the ocean.

People often mistake a Reddish Egret for a Tricolored Heron or a Great Blue, so you have to look carefully for that shaggy, rusty neck and chest and gray body, with no white on the bird. The juvenile birds are a pale chalky color, which was what we had today. To see the difference, the photos below are of today’s juvenile and the mature Reddish we saw on East Kiawah Beach on Tuesday.

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad