Egretta Sacra

Egretta Sacra (Eastern reef Egret)

(Eastern Reef Egret)




Egretta Sacra

Common name(s)

Eastern Reef Egret, Blue Reef Heron

Main colour(s)

Slate Grey


610 - 660 mm


Orpheus Island Research Station


A workmanlike beach and reef dwelling heron that has two colour phases: 1) A uniform dark-grey with slight white streak down the centre of the throat, with a grey bill, yellow-green facial skin and grey legs with a dull-yellow wash. 2) pure white with yellowish bill, often with a grey or horn-coloured upper mandible and dull yellow grey legs. Both forms have somewhat longer breeding plumes on their back and breast.

This species roosts and nests in loose colonies and when foraging crouches, sometimes with wings open before chasing or jabbing at quarry which is predominately small reef fish. Their nest is usually an untidy structure of sticks either in trees or on the ground under scrub and ledges of rocks or caves in which they lay 2-5 pale green to blue –white eggs

Sites where this species can be found at OIRS

A pair of this species resides in Pioneer Bay where the have been unfavorably made their preferred roosting position on the inside deck, seating and consoles of any vessels left on the outer moorings, alternatively they can be found roosting on the main entrance light pole. At low tide they can be readily seen hunting in the tidal pools for small fish and invertebrates. Though seen with breeding plumage it does not appear that they have successfully nested or raised young between 2010 to 2012, though successful breeding has been reported prior to this period.

Research that has been undertaken at OIRS


Egretta scra showing crouching hunting technique

Egretta Sacra displaying wing open hunting technique