Reddish Egret up close and not so close

Reddish Egret portraitReddish Egret portrait – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

On my Great Blue Heron post yesterday I mentioned that:

When I am out photographing birds I always appreciate when I am able to get close enough to them to get portrait frames of them because a portrait can show fine details that an image from further away can.

Today I wanted to share another example of close up and full body images of another one of my favorite birds; the Reddish Egret.  They are also known as “The Drunken Sailor” for the wacky poses they exhibit while hunting, I wish that everyone of my readers could see that dance at least once in a lifetime. Maybe even from the perspective that I some times had while sitting or kneeling waist deep in a lagoon with expensive camera gear in hand while thinking “Oh oh, is that Reddish Egret going to mow me down because it isn’t paying attention to a thing outside of its prey let alone the crazy woman in the lagoon?”

I was sitting in the warm water of the lagoon when I photographed this adult Reddish Egret in breeding plumage but the egret was on dry ground near some mangroves so I wasn’t concerned about it running into me or spearing me with its knife-like bill while calling “Shiska-Mia”!

Okay, back to being serious. With this close up image I can see plenty of fine detail in the plumage, eyes, lores and bill. The details in the “mane” and other feathers show very nicely. I am not sure why but the “mane” has always reminded me a dreadlocks on Reddish Egrets.

Adult Reddish Egret in breeding plumageAdult Reddish Egret in breeding plumage – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 260mm, natural light, not baited

From a distance I can appreciate the full body of the egret and with more of the “mane” showing people who have never seen this wading bird before might understand why the feathers on the head and neck are sometimes even called a “mane”. The man doesn’t look so much like dreadlocks when the bird is standing still but when it is running about chasing prey those ropy sections of feathers going flying about willy-nilly and that is when they most remind me of dreads.

For me; both images are appealing and tell me a lot about this Reddish Egret.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. impressive this close up, a pleasure to watch
    thanks =))

  2. Wow. You captured those amazing colors so crisply, Mia. Gorgeous!

  3. I agree, I love it when I can get a good shot to crop and see the details. The first thing I noticed about this guy is the same feather patterns on the neck that I see in the gbh!

  4. Hello Mia, Gorgeous shots of the Reddish Egret. It is one bird I have not seen yet.

  5. Love that close-up image but like seeing the entire bird too. Good work Mia!

  6. Beau-Ti-Mus, running out of words to describe your beautiful photography and your excellent skill!
    Must be so much fun to open the photos and have these on your screen.

    I always wanted to be a Redhead!!

  7. most excellent of this beautiful Egret

  8. Merrill Ann Gonzales

    On these birds I appreciate the close up of the head so I can study the intricacies of the mandible etc. It’s better than seeing the birds in the wild! Many thanks.

  9. Having seen a shot of you wading a tidal pool, I’m wondering if you find wading a stealthier way to wait or approach a subject. Or is it simply a matter of taking a direct route, impediments be damned. I ask because I do al ot of wading with a fly rod in hand, quietly stalking and rarely casting (Texas, Laguna Madre)and have not noticed that I gain extra range on birds. Perhaps its just a matter of the impossibility of mixing pleasures.

    • Rich,

      I did find that with a very slow and low (to the water) approach to my subjects that I was far more likely to get closer to them than if I had approached them on land. although if I laid very still on land for long periods of time eventually birds would approach me closely, this style took much longer than approaching by water. If I was standing upright in the water the birds were always more on the alert but being low in the water seemed to make them more comfortable with my presence. I didn’t really mind being in the water, in fact on some days it kept me cool in the heat & humidity.

  10. Interesting shots of a bird not familiar to me…great detail…am working on a watercolor of a great blue now, a bird I’ve painted several times before, and am always amazed at the variety of feathers these birds have…not just colors, but shapes.

    • Thanks Patty, Reddish Egrets have a far more limited range than their cousin the Great Blue Heron which is why many people are unfamiliar with them. Every once in a while one shows up in southern Utah, I hope I will see one again.

  11. Absolutely “Brilliant” photos! So much detail, clarity, and perfect lighting!!

  12. Wow, Mia! I love this. Beautiful bird.
    I want to go sit in your lagoon and see this wonderful bird.

  13. Stunning. And how lucky the birds (and we) are that you take their portraits. And yes, I can see the parallel with their mane and dreads. Though the egret won’t face the problem which perplexes me – how do you sleep on dreads?

  14. This looks like “Big Red” from Ft. DeSoto North Beach. Always puts on a show. Nice shots. One of my favorite birds.

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