Great Egret

(Ardea alba)

               
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

Great Egret

NatureServe

N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common migrant and breeder

Habitat

Freshwater, mud flats, tidal shallows, marshes, irrigation canals, open riverbanks.

Size

36 to 42 in length

48 wingspan

Photo by Elizabeth Daughton

Identification

This is a large, 36 to 42 long, slender bird with a wingspan of 48 to 60. It weighs 32 to 40 ounces. Males are larger than females. They live about 15 years.

The plumage is completely white. The neck is very long. Small patches of skin between the eyes and bill (lores) are green.

The bill is long, stout, straight, and yellow.

The legs are long and black. The feet are black.

In flight their neck is pulled back forming an "S" curve and they trail their feet.

 
Voice

Loud, low-pitched, rapid cuk-cuk-cuk.

 
Similar
Species

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a stockier, much smaller bird, 19 to 21. The bill and legs are orange.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is a smaller bird, 22 to 26. The bill is black. The feet are yellow, though the legs, like those of the Great Egret, are black.


Food

Frogs, lizards, snakes, crayfish, fish, mice, birds, aquatic and other insects.

 
Nesting

Nesting is usually in colonies in wetlands and wooded swamps, often with Great Blue Herons and Double-crested Cormorants. Occasionally, a pair will nest alone. The nest is a platform of sticks, twigs, and stems in a tree or tall shrub over water.

The clutch is 1 to 6 (average 3) pale, greenish-blue eggs.

 
Migration

April to September


Comments

What’s in a Name?
The common name is a misnomer, as this is actually a heron, in the genus Ardea (great herons).

Taxonomy
Bitterns, egrets, and herons (family Ardeidae) were formerly classified under the order Ciconiiformes. Based on a phylogenomic study published in 2008, the family was transferred to the order Pelecaniformes.

National Audubon Society
The Great Egret is the symbol for the National Audubon Society.


Taxonomy

Order:

Pelecaniformes (pelicans, herons, ibises, and allies)

 

Family:

Ardeidae (bitterns, egrets, and herons)

 
Subordinate Taxa

African Egret (Ardea alba melanorhynchos)

American Great Egret (Ardea alba egretta)

Eastern Great Egret (Ardea alba modesta)

Western Great Egret (Ardea alba alba)

 

Eastern Great Egret is sometimes treated as a separate species, Ardea modesta.

 
Synonyms

Casmerodius albus


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

Visitor Photos

   
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Elizabeth Daughton


Great egret, Colonial Church pond, Edina, April 1.

  Great Egret    
       

The egret explored a small pond and searched for food on September 3.

  Great Egret    
       

An egret walks through the shallows at the Colonial Church pond, Edina.

  Great Egret  
       

The great egret balanced on one leg while cleaning his feathers.

  Great Egret    
       

The egret, surprised by my presence, flees to a nearby tree where he perches over a pond.

  Great Egret    
       

A great egret lives in a tree overlooking the pond.

  Great Egret    

Wayne Rasmussen


White Egrets are occasional visitors to Maplewood Hts Park even though the Blue Heron tries to protect his territory with ferocity.

  Great Egret   Great Egret
       
  Great Egret    

       
       
       

MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos

   
  Great Egret   Great Egret
       
  Great Egret   Great Egret
       
  Great Egret    
       
       

 

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Slideshows

   
  Great Egret
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
 
  Great Egret  
     
  Great Egret
Ed McVicker
 
  Great Egret  
     
  Great Egret
JMC Nature Photos
 
  Great Egret  
     
  Great Egret
Craig A. Mullenbach
 
  Great Egret  

 

slideshow

     

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Other Videos

 
  Great Egrets on the UL Lafayette Campus
nemastoma2
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Sep 24, 2008

http://morayeel.louisiana.edu/SeaweedsLab/phycomirth.html
The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as the Great White Egret or Common Egret, is a common visiting wading bird in the bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) swamp ("Cypress Lake") on the campus of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) can also be seen swimming in the swamp.

This solitary egret was filmed on September 24, 2008 by SUzanne Fredericq. The species can be distinguished from other white egrets and herons by size, yellow bill that may have a black ridge, and black legs and feet. Note the characteristic sideways neck- and head-bobbing (triangulation) behavior prior to catching a prey.

 
     
  Great Egret Rookery
R Lee
 
   
 
About

Published on Jun 10, 2012

Fergus Falls MN. Great Egrets return each year to nest in a few trees in one of our secluded parks.

 
     
  Great Egrets in Fergus Falls
Janelle Streed
 
   
 
About

Published on May 8, 2013

Great Egrets in Breeding plumage, during mating season when they put on interesting displays trying to attract a mate. Taped at Grotto Lake rookery where both Great Egrets and Double-crested Cormorants have built their nests in a tree located in the lake.

 
     

 

Camcorder

         

Visitor Sightings

   
Share your sighting of this species.

Elizabeth Daughton
4/1/2017

Location: Colonial Church pond

Great Egret


Elizabeth Daughton
9/3/2016

Location: Bredesen Park, Edina, MN.

The egret explored a small pond and searched for food on September 3.

Great Egret


Elizabeth Daughton
8/23/2016

Location: Hennepin County

An egret walks through the shallows at the Colonial Church pond, Edina.

Great Egret


Elizabeth Daughton
8/12/2016

Location: pond next to the Colonial Church, Edina.

The egret, surprised by my presence, flees to a nearby tree where he perches over a pond.

Great Egret


Elizabeth Daughton
8/7/2016

Location: 2 great egrets  live near the pond at the Colonial Church, Edina

the egrets live about ten yards from each other and may be a pair. A great blue heron lives nearby. For the past two days, one egret has been moving twigs in a tree overlooking the pond.

Great Egret


Wayne Rasmussen
6/8/2016

Location: Maplewood Heights Park

White Egrets are occasional visitors to Maplewood Hts Park even though the Blue Heron tries to protect his territory with ferocity.

Great Egret


Michael C. Davis
8/13/2015

Location: Snail Lake Park

For the last week there have been upwards of 40 Egrets roosting in the trees at dusk. They roost on the northwest side of the loop trail. Before they go up into the trees they hang out in the marsh that the loop trail circles and are often quite close to the trial, usually on the eastern side of the trail.


TLV
6/9/2014

Location: SW edge of Birch Lake, White Bear Lake, MN

Early evening, a tall, slender, stately white bird, which from its appearance could only have been a Great Egret, walked slowly across the shoreline of our property on Birch Lake. It took its time, paying little attention to anything around it, stood for a few moments at the point where open water meets a reed bed, then gracefully took flight and headed NE across the lake and out of view. I stood about 90 feet away watching the whole time.


     
     
 

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