Generally nests in mixed colonies with other wading birds, but may nest alone or in small groups apart from other waders (Paul 1996). In Texas, birds typically aggregate into nesting colonies in March and most eggs are laid between mid-March and mid-April (Paul 1991); however, egg laying can begin as late as mid-June, and second clutches may occur as late as mid-July (McMurray 1971, Simersky 1971). In Florida Bay, nesting occurs virtually year-round, although in general, nesting in Florida begins in February. Elsewhere in the Carribean, nesting is generally winter-summer, but can occur year-round (Hancock and Kushlan 1984, Paul 1991).
An egg is laid every other day until the clutch is complete (McMurray 1971). Clutch size is usually three to four eggs, but occasionally five and very rarely six or seven (Bent 1926). In Texas, McMurray (1971) and Simersky (1971) found a mean of 3.1 eggs per nest (range = 1-6), and Paul (1991) found averages of 2.6-3.2 eggs. The average clutch size of 81 and 15 Florida clutches was 2.75 and 3.3 eggs, respectively (Paul 1991, Stevenson and Anderson 1994). Both sexes incubate the eggs for an average of 26 days (21-36 days; McMurray 1971, Paul 1991). Adults brood the young for another three weeks and feed the young by regurgitation for an additional six weeks (Paul 1991).
Hatching success of eggs ranges from 18-86 percent in Texas and Florida (McMurray 1971, Paul 1991, Simersky 1971). The lowest value was a result of bald eagle predation (Paul 1991). Fledging success in Texas varied from 37-77 percent; the lower figure due to human disturbance (McMurray 1971, Paul 1991). In Florida Bay, fledging success ranged from 4-62.5 percent (average = 36 percent). The lower value was caused by a food shortage which resulted in nestling starvation (Paul 1991). In studies of nesting success in Texas, the number of young fledged per nest was 0.4 (McMurray 1971), 0.7-0.9 (Simersky 1971), and 1.2-1.5 (Paul 1991). In two of these studies, researcher disturbance was thought to have negatively influenced nest success (McMurray 1971, Simersky 1971). In Florida, the number of young fledged per nest ranged from 0.09-1.8 (average = 0.6). Poor production was a result of predation and food scarcity (Paul 1991). Renesting attempts are not as successful as first nesting attempts (Simersky 1971). Although a few individuals mature when two years old, most do not breed until 3-4 years old (Paul 1991, Paul 1996).