Twenty heron, egret and bittern species fill the space under the American Birding Association's family Ardeidae category.
Eight of those species might have a single or couple of stay sightings credited to them. The North American breeding population consists of a dozen species.
Easily recognized as the often large, long-billed, long necked wading birds, herons and their relatives inhabit the water's edges of coastal and inland.
|More Bird Resources
Types of Birds
Sometime during the calender year, all twelve species can be spotted along the Southeast and the Gulf of Mexico.
On average, fewer Ardeidae species inhabit West Coast shorelines and inland watering holes. However in years of heavy northern migration of Mexican populations, eleven of the twelve species can be recorded.
With the exception of the American Bittern and the Least Bittern, North American heron and egret species tend to stand out in their environment.
Perhaps the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) stands out the most, given its propensity to build a rookery anywhere with a suitable water and food source.
One of two native Ardea species, they stand between three and four feet tall, with a wing span that approaches six feet.
Similar in size and habitat preference to the Great Blue Heron, the Great Egret (Ardea alba) stands apart by dint of its white feathers and a yellow bill.
Traditionally among the hardiest of the West Coast egrets, their populations extend up to the Canadian border.Egrets
Egrets (Egretta), arguably the genus that launched the modern bird movement, inhabit fresh and salt water environments world wide.
Still going strong after well over one hundred years later, the coalition of scientific and practical birding interests who opposed the wide spread use of egret feathers in the fashion industry in the late nineteenth century, continue advocating for bird interests today.
Eventually Egretta populations recovered. According to the American Birding Association, the North American population consists of four native species along with three occasional visitors.
© 2002-2013 Patricia A. Michaels.