Marine Wildlife Encyclopedia
Pacific Reef Egret Egretta sacra
This compact shoreline egret has two contrasting color forms, so different that they look like separate species. One form (or morph) is completely white, with a pale yellow bill and yellow-gray legs. The other form has a similarly colored bill and legs, but its plumage is dark gray. The balance between the two forms varies. In some islands in the tropical Pacific the white form predominates, but in New Zealand, the overwhelming majority are gray. Pacific Reef Egrets forage alone or in small groups, feeding on small fish, crabs, and mollusks. When hunting, they hold their heads and bodies almost horizontally and often shade the water with their half-spread wings. Unlike most egrets, they frequently nest on the ground, among fallen rocks or in coastal caves, as well as in low-growing trees.