The Western Reef Heron, Egretta gularis, also known as the Western Reef Egret, is a medium-sized heron. It occurs mainly on the coasts in tropical west Africa, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf and east to India. It has been recorded as a vagrant in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian territory in the eastern Indian Ocean.
Western Reef Heron has occurred as a vagrant twice in Canada and four times in the United States of America, first on Nantucket in April, 1983 and several times between 2005 and 2007.
The Western Reef Heron's breeding habitat is coastal wetlands. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. The normal clutch is two or three eggs (although Ahmed Al Ali from UAE recorded a 4 eggs).
This bird has two plumage colour forms. There is an all-white morph and a dark grey morph; intermediate morphs also occur. The white morph is similar in general appearance to the Little Egret, but has a thicker bill, duller legs, and a less elegant appearance. The grey morph is unlikely to be confused with any other species within the range of this egret.
These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. They eat fish, crustaceans, and molluscs.
The taxonomy of this species is being seriously questioned. There are three subspecies; E. g. gularis, schistacea, and dimorpha; all of which seem to be less related than formerly believed.