Reddish Egret Distribution, Abundance, and Nesting in Coastal Louisiana
Louisiana's coastal zone provides ample habitat for numerous waterbird species. However, coastal Louisiana shoreline is vast, often remote, and difficult to sample effectively. Reddish Egrets (Egretta rufescens) are the rarest North American egret species, but little is known about them through their range, especially in coastal Louisiana. This is likely a consequence of their cryptic plumage and the difficulty in detecting the species during aerial colony surveys. Along with other Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries collaborators (Samantha Collins, Michael Seymour, Sam Holcomb), we sought to gain a better understanding of the species in coastal Louisiana. Specifically, we wanted to first identify key nesting colonies for the species and estimate the number of nesting pairs utilizing each colony. Second, we wanted to capture both adults and juveniles to determine the habitats they used in Louisiana, especially important foraging and roosting habitats; along with this information, we could also gain an understanding about the dispersal and migration of the species away from Louisiana. Last, we also hoped to gain a better understanding of their nesting ecology through the use of nest monitoring at select colonies to determine nest fates (i.e., nest success).