Great Egrets are at their best during the breeding season when males have neon green facial skin and long, wispy feathers (aigrettes) extending from their backs to their tails, which they show off during courtship, like how a peacock flares out its tail.
They are large, all-white herons, which is why they’re often called Great White Herons. They are also called common egrets. These large birds are white, with dagger-like, long, bright yellow bills and long, black legs and feet.
Non-breeding males, females, and juveniles look alike.
- Ardea alba
- Length: 37 – 41 in (94 – 104cm)
- Weight: 59.96 oz (1699 g)
- Wingspan: 54 – 55 in (137 – 140 cm)
Great Egrets have a vast range around the world. Those in the southern and coastal US states remain all year, but those more inland and in Canada migrate south.
Habitat And Diet
You can find Great Egrets in freshwater and saltwater marshes and tidal flats, but also fish ponds.
The diet of Great Egrets consists mainly of fish, frogs, small mammals, crustaceans, and insects. You will see Great Egrets standing motionless on the water, waiting and scouting their prey, and then they strike and spear it with their long bills.
Great Egret Calls:
Nests of Great Egrets are found in colonies. They are usually placed high up in trees, preferably on islands, to protect the nests from predators like raccoons.
They are made of sticks, twigs, and stems of marsh plants. The females lay up to six eggs, and incubation by both parents is done for around twenty-five days.
The Great Egret was almost hunted to extinction because of their long white feathers (aigrettes) that were mainly used to decorate ladies’ hats.