The Great Egret

August 20, 2015

The Great Egret also known as the common egret, large egret is a large, widely distributed egret. This  S-necked white bird is found throughout the Americas and around much of the world. In North America it is more widely distributed, and it is ubiquitous across the Sun Belt of the United States and in the Neotropics. Great Egrets are tall, long-legged wading birds with long, S-curved necks and long, dagger-like bills. In flight, the long neck is tucked in and the legs extend far beyond the tip of the short tail. All feathers on a Great Egret are white while their bills are yellowish orange and their legs are black.

Great egrets are found near water, salt or fresh, and feed in wetlands, streams, ponds, tidal flats, and other areas. They snare prey by walking slowly or standing still for long periods, waiting for an animal to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. The deathblow is delivered with a quick thrust of the sharp bill, and the prey is swallowed whole.


Common food staple is fish but they use the same technique  to eat amphibians, reptiles, mice, and other small animals. You’ll find Great Egrets in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. These birds nest in trees, near water and gather in groups called colonies, which may include other heron or egret species. They are monogamous, and both parents incubate their three to four eggs. Young egrets are aggressive towards one another in the nest, and stronger siblings often kill their weaker kin so that not all survive to fledge in two to three weeks.

The Great Egret’s beautiful breeding feathers where in huge demand for hat decorations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Great Egret made a comeback after early conservationists put a stop to the slaughter and protected its colonies; as a result, this bird became the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

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