Reddish Egret Morphs

Dancing dark morph Reddish EgretDancing dark morph Reddish Egret – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 200, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 300mm, natural light

These two Reddish Egrets; a dark and a white morph, were photographed on the same day at Fort De Soto’s north beach in May of 2009 and both of them were showing signs of being in breeding plumage. This dark morph wasn’t quite in full breeding plumage because the bill would be pinker and the lores a deeper blue if it were but it was close. Dark morphs are far more common than white morphs and I felt lucky to photograph both morphs on the same day.

I photographed this Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens) in a tidal lagoon while sitting in the water as the bird danced around me on the hunt for prey. My Nikkor 80-400mm VR was off being repaired so that day I was using my Nikkor 70-300mm VR for all the bird images I took. This egret was so busy hunting that it paid me no mind at all as it rushed around the lagoon. There were a few times I thought the bird was going to run right into me.

I like the bird’s pose, eye contact and the action this image conveys as well as how it shows the water, shore, wrack line and the sand dune in the background.

Hunting white morph Reddish EgretHunting white morph Reddish Egret – Nikon D200, handheld, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 70-300mm VR at 250mm, natural light

This white morph Reddish Egret was busy hunting in the Gulf of Mexico when I photographed it. It’s lores are a deep purplish blue and the black-tipped bill is very pink. I was sitting on the sand of the shoreline as the egret raced around trying to catch prey where the waves broke and like the dark morph, this bird all but ignored my presence.

Reddish Egrets are sometimes called “Drunken Sailors” because of their movements while hunting, they often wobble, twirl, dance and seem to stumble. It is very amusing and entertaining to see and photograph and they never failed to delight me.



  1. Bryce Robinson December 29, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    I love the white morph! I think I have told you before, but Ardeidae is my favorite family of birds. So jealous of your experience. Thanks for the images!

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      Thanks Bryce, they are some of my favorites too.

  2. M. Firpi December 28, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Both the Dark and the White Morph are very theatrical with their poses.

  3. Sherry in MT December 28, 2012 at 8:11 am

    What cool birds. I’m loving seeing all the different species you’ve captured (okay and more than a little jealous). I love the “pose” of these two shots.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks Sherry, Reddish Egrets are awesome, I hope you get to see and photograph them one day.

  4. hummingbirdlover December 28, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Hi! Look forword to seeing your Blog everyday! Love all the great photo’s you show! Good work!

  5. Susan December 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm

    What wonderful behavior to observe, I can see it in my mind just from your description. The photos are just delightful

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Thanks Susan, these egrets are wonderful dancers!

  6. Julie G. December 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Exceptional images of the Reddish Egrets! Your excellent photographs are proof that getting down and dirty to photograph nature is well worth the effort and perhaps, discomfort. Superb!

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

      Thank you Julie. I appreciate your comments.

  7. Tammy Karr December 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Great action shots Mia! Reddish Egrets are so entertaining!

  8. Jake Gehring December 27, 2012 at 11:55 am

    So a silly question, perhaps. You’ve mentioned a few times that you take these pictures while sitting in the water. What advantages does that bring, from a photographer’s perspective? Do you just resign yourself to getting wet, or do you take long hunting waders or some such?

    • Mia McPherson December 27, 2012 at 12:12 pm

      Jake, I have found that for taking images of some birds that by getting low and in the water they are less likely to be alarmed by me (or anyone) and will often approach a person sitting, kneeling or laying in shallow water. You can get great low angles in the water which puts the “viewers” at eye level with the subject and that draws them into the bird’s world. Some times I get into the water because of the angle of light, I want it on the bird, not back lit.

      I know some people do use waders in Florida but I never did. Just my water shoes and my hiking clothing which dry rapidly. Some people in the waders had a difficult time walking and gear got dunked. Here in Utah, yes, I’d wear waders because our water doesn’t get as warm for long periods of time as it does in Florida.

      I only got into salt water that way in Florida because in fresh water there are hidden dangers… like alligators.

  9. Bob Bushell December 27, 2012 at 9:08 am

    What some will do to get in one of your photographs? Posers.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      He he he Bob, yeah, these Reddish Egrets are camera hams 😉

  10. Bob Zeller December 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Awesome photos, Mia. I envy you getting down and dirty to get these images. I am afraid that at my age, I could never spend that much time sitting in the water. I would probably topple over and make a fool of my self anyway. I am chuckling as I write this, picturing that scene in my mind. 🙂

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks Bob, I doubt that you would make a fool of yourself, besides it gets the shot 🙂

  11. judy watson December 27, 2012 at 7:47 am

    Wow, Mia. I love the reddish one. Never seen a picture of one before.

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you Judy, Reddish Egrets are fascinating wading birds.

  12. eric c11 December 27, 2012 at 7:23 am

    very nice poses !!
    it s the kind of picture witch make think it s easy to take the photo… but it s not the case, i know it too, only the time spent on different spots can bring somes results
    have a nice day mia ☺

    • Mia McPherson January 6, 2013 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you Eric. Yes, it does take lots of time to get the images that we want or dream of!

Comments are closed.