Hunting the Egret

Taken at dusk near 390. This was attempt number two. It's a lot better than my first attempt, although I still wish that I was closer. I do like the background and reflection, though.


A large white heron, the Great Egret is found across much of the world, from southern Canada southward to Argentina, and in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. It's the largest egret in the Old World, and thus has garnered the name Great White Egret. But in the Americas, the white form of the Great Blue Heron is larger and warrants that name. In the United States, the Great Egret used to be called the American Egret but that was hardly appropriate, since the species range extends beyond America and indeed farther than other herons.



Large, all white heron.

Long, black legs and feet.

Yellow bill is long, stout, and straight.

Flies with neck pulled back in S-curve.


Size: 94-104 cm (37-41 in)

Wingspan: 131-145 cm (52-57 in)

Weight: 1000 g (35.3 ounces)


Sex Differences:

Sexes appear alike.



A deep croak when disturbed. Other low calls around nest.



Conservation Status:

Plume hunters in the late 1800s and early 1900s reduced North American populations by more than 95 percent. The populations recovered after the birds were protected by law. No population is considered threatened, but the species is vulnerable to the loss of wetlands.


Other Names:

Grande Aigrette (French)

Garza blanca, Garza grande, Garza real (Spanish)

Great White Egret (British) (English)



Cool Facts:

The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. Audubon was founded to protect birds from being killed for their feathers.



Not all young that hatch survive the nestling period. Aggression among nestlings is common and large chicks frequently kill their smaller siblings.



The longevity record for a wild Great Egret is nearly 23 years.


Sources used to construct this page:

McCrimmon, D. A., Jr., J. C. Ogden, and G. T. Bancroft. 2001. Great Egret (Ardea alba). In The Birds of North America, No. 570 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.


S Search
Photo navigation
< > Thumbnail navigation
Z Zoom
B Back to context