Great Egret

Scientific Name:

Ardea alba

Type:

Bird

Habitat:

Both freshwater and saltwater marshes with still water

Range:

Mexico and the United States

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Great egrets are tall, graceful, and slender white birds. Standing on long black legs with long, “S”-shaped necks, adult great egrets are just over 3 feet tall with wingspans of 4 1/2 feet. Great egrets use their yellow to orange dagger-like bills to spear their prey. Their plumage is all white. Great egrets' overall size is slightly smaller than great blue herons, and they are larger than snowy egrets. Great egrets will usually hunt by wading in shallow water, waiting for their prey (primarily fish and other small aquatic animals) to swim past before striking quickly.

Fast Facts:

  • After making a comeback from nearly being wiped out, the great egret became the symbol of the National Audubon Society in 1953.

  • Only two wingbeats per second are needed to propel these majestic birds in flight at 25 mph.

  • Great egret pairs nest high in trees.

  • While great egrets were hunted to near extinction for their showy white plums in the late 1800’s, they have benefitted from conservation law and are currently not endangered.

  • Great egrets will migrate through, and commonly stopover at, most estuaries and marshes across the United States and Mexico. These birds are commonly found throughout the year in the south and along the California coast. There are similar sub-species that can be found in much of the rest of the world as well.

  • Here in the Truckee Meadows, great egrets can often be seen in the wetlands near and around Damonte Ranch Park, Center Creek Park, Comstock Park, and Horizon Park.

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Regina Hockett (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

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