Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Waleed Mohamed Reyad Hamza Aly El-Din

Second Advisor

Dr. Aaron Henderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Hashim Ahmed Al-Sayed


Western Reef Heron (Egretta egularis) is a very common coastal resident bird species in the Arabian Gulf. In UAE, the subspecies “schistacea” also known as Indian Reef Heron occurs in mangroves inlets and other coastal and inland water bodies along the southern and eastern coast of the country. The present study aims to investigate the bird’s food, feeding behavior, morphs and its relationship with the habitat in Al-Zora Protected Area (Ajman - UAE) by establishing a feeding behavior ethogram and monitor its feeding frequency and its correlation with biotic and abiotic features of the study site. Foraging success rate and foraging efficiency were calculated by observing feeding and successful feeding attempts for 1 minute every 5 minutes for 5 hours every other day for 15 days in two seasons (summer and winter) noticing the two morphs individual count, tidal changes, and time of the day. Data shows that that Western Reef Heron uses 13 feeding behavior with the difference in their utilization between seasons and age groups. Feeding is influenced by primarily the tidal movement and not time of the day. Foraging success Ratio is not only different between seasons but also between the two morphs and between age groups. The significant differences in strikes between White and Dark morph open a perplexing question of crypsis and natural selection possibility with a dilemma between the idea and its statistical analysis. There might be a relation between the sub-species and what morph is predominant. Overall, feeding behavior analysis in this study indicates a very promising possibility for Western Reef Heron to be a highly important bio-indicator species for mangrove and creek inlet ecosystem and its linkage between top avifauna waders predators and marine benthic community.