Ardea alba
(Great Egret)


Order: Ciconiiformes
Order Description: Bitterns, Herons, Egrets,and Ibises
Family: Ardeidae
Family Description: Herons, Bitterns, and Egrets

Physical Description:
Size 37-41" (94-104 cm). Body snow white. Breeding adults have back covered in white plumesClick word for definition. Juveniles lack plumesClick word for definition and have a dark tip on their bill. Yellow bill, black legs and feet. Flies with neck kinked, characteristic or herons.

Similar Species- Cattle Egret is smaller, more compact, with shorter bill and legs, thick head. Snowy Egret is smaller with black bill and yellow feet.

Song:
A low croak. Usually silent.

Distribution:
Breeds from southern Oregon and southern Idaho, east (irregularly) through Canadian Priarie Provinces and northeastern U.S., and south to Gulf Coast states, southern New Mexico, coastal Mexico, and southern South America. Winters from southern U.S., south through breeding range to southern South America. Wanders irregularly outside usual range.

Habitat:
Found on marshes, swampy woods, tidal estuaries, lagoons, along streams, lakes, and ponds, and in fields and meadows.

Diet:
Eats mainly fishes, amphibians, snakes, snails, crustaceans, insects, and small mammals.

Ecology:
Builds nest in tree, occasionally in shrub. Nests solitarily or in small to large colonies. Usually forages singly, during daylight, in marshes and shallow water ponds, but may also feed in fields or drop from air (or perch) into water. Arrives back at roostClick word for definition at sunset or at dark. Individuals may gather in groups when not breeding.

Reproduction:
Both sexes incubateClick word for definition 1- 6 eggs (usually 3-4 in northern range, 2-3 in south). Incubation lasts 23-24 days. Young fly at about 42 days.

Conservation:
Element Code: ABNGA04040
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S1
National Rank: unknown

Important State References:
Trost, C.H. and A. Gerstell. 1994. Status and distribution of colonial nesting waterbirds in southern Idaho, 1993. Dept. Biol. Sciences, Idaho St. Univ., Pocatello. 101pp.


Photo by C. Trost, George Jameson, and Ed Dijak,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.