Pacific Reef-Egret (Egretta sacra ssp. sacra)
The Pacific Reef-Egret is an about 60 cm large, rather short-legged egret, that lives predominantly in coastal areas.
The birds occur in mangrove-filled estuaries or along rocky shores, where they feed on small fish, mollusks and crustaceans.
The nominate race of this species occurs from South and Southeast Asia to Australia and into almost the whole pacific region (with the exception of New Caledonia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, where the ssp. albolineata (G. R. Gray) occurs).
In some regions of Polynesia the Pacific Reef-Egret is nowadays the only surviving of the native bird species.
There are three color morphs, dark slate grey colored birds, pure white birds as well as an intermediate phase that is mottled white with dark slate grey. It is a somewhat strange fact, that in some areas, for example New Zealand and Samoa, only birds of one of these morphs (in both cases the dark morph) are breeding, while in other places all three morphs live together.
Photo: Phil Swanson; by courtesy of Ross Silcock