Herons, along with egrets and bitterns, are in the family of birds called Ardeidae.

They are commonly known as the family of large, long necked wading birds that live on the edge of lakes, rivers and wetlands throughout the United States.

A dozen species live in United States, all of which can be found along the South East Coast of the United States and the Gulf of Mexico.

American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis)
Great Blue Heron (Also a Great White Heron) (Ardea herodias)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
Reddish Egret (Egretta rufescens)
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)

The West Coast of the United States has less breath of heron species present, however at least eleven of the twelve species have been recorded lately.

The seven most common West Coast heron species are the American Bittern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Green Heron, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret and the Cattle Egret. A detailed discussion of all except the Cattle Egret can be found by clicking on a link in the box.

As a group egrets can be considered herons with white feathers. Many egret species were known as fashion birds and were hunted close to extinction at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Cattle Egrets are non-native birds, introduced in the United States in 1941. They have proved to be very adaptable, and in seven decades they have found their way as far north as Oregon.

Three additional egrets occasionally visit West Coast locations. There have been sporadic reports of Little Blue Herons, Tricolor Herons and Reddish Egrets migrating north a bit from their traditional Mexican roosts through Southern California to the San Francisco Bay area.


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