Nests of 5 spp. of wading birds [Egretta thula, Plegadis falcinellus, Florida caerulea, casmerodius albus and Hydranassa tricolor] were identified and marked during the breeding season at 6 locations from Maccachusetts [USA] to North Carolina [USA]. At the end of the breeding season, 12 characteristics of nest-site location were measured. Nest locations were mapped to examine dispersion and nearest neighbor relationships. Multivariate analysis were used to describe and compare sites and species. Variations in nest-sites between colonies were greater than between species; colonies differed mainly in the variety and size of vegetation. Birds preferred to nest in vegetation that offered relatively stable nest sites, and the dispersion of nests in the colonies was related to vegetative patterns. The interaction of these factors with the number of bird species and the abundance of birds in the colony determined whether nest sites were stratified, segregated or randomly distributed.