Great egret

The great egret (Ardea alba), also known as the common egret, large egret, or (in the Old World) great white egret[2] or great white heron[3][4][5] is a large, widely distributed egret, with four subspecies found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, it builds tree nests in colonies close to water.

Great egret
Great egret (Ardea alba) Tobago
Adult in Tobago
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Ardea
A. alba
Binomial name
Ardea alba
Ardea alba map
Range of A. alba (excluding A. a. modesta)      Breeding range     Year-round range     Wintering range
  • Casmerodius albus (Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Egretta alba (Cramp and Simmons, 1977)

Systematics and taxonomy

Like all egrets, it is a member of the heron family, Ardeidae. Traditionally classified with the storks in the Ciconiiformes, the Ardeidae are closer relatives of pelicans and belong in the Pelecaniformes, instead. The great egret—unlike the typical egrets—does not belong to the genus Egretta, but together with the great herons is today placed in Ardea. In the past, however, it was sometimes placed in Egretta or separated in a monotypic genus Casmerodius.

The Old World population is often referred to as the "great white egret". This species is sometimes confused with the great white heron of the Caribbean, which is a white morph of the closely related great blue heron.

The scientific name comes from Latin ardea, "heron", and alba, "white".[6]


Four subspecies are found in various parts of the world, which differ but little.[7] Differences are bare-part coloration in the breeding season and size; the smallest A. a. modesta from Asia and Australasia some taxonomists consider a full species, the eastern great egret (Ardea modesta), but most scientists treat it as a subspecies.


Ardea alba -San Francisco Bay, California, USA -flying-8-1c
In flight

The great egret is a large heron with all-white plumage. Standing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, this species can measure 80 to 104 cm (31 to 41 in) in length and have a wingspan of 131 to 170 cm (52 to 67 in).[8][9] Body mass can range from 700 to 1,500 g (1.5 to 3.3 lb), with an average around 1,000 g (2.2 lb).[10] It is thus only slightly smaller than the great blue or grey heron (A. cinerea). Apart from size, the great egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season. In breeding plumage, delicate ornamental feathers are borne on the back. Males and females are identical in appearance; juveniles look like nonbreeding adults. Differentiated from the intermediate egret (Mesophoyx intermedius) by the gape, which extends well beyond the back of the eye in case of the great egret, but ends just behind the eye in case of the intermediate egret.

It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills, which extend their necks in flight. The great egret walks with its neck extended and wings held close. The great egret is not normally a vocal bird; it gives a low, hoarse croak when disturbed, and at breeding colonies, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk and higher-pitched squawks.[11]

Distribution and conservation

The great egret is generally a very successful species with a large and expanding range, occurring worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. It is ubiquitous across the Sun Belt of the United States and in the Neotropics.[1] In North America, large numbers of great egrets were killed around the end of the 19th century so that their plumes could be used to decorate hats. Numbers have since recovered as a result of conservation measures. Its range has expanded as far north as southern Canada. However, in some parts of the southern United States, its numbers have declined due to habitat loss, particularly wetland degradation through drainage, grazing, clearing, burning, increased salinity, groundwater extraction and invasion by exotic plants. Nevertheless, the species adapts well to human habitation and can be readily seen near wetlands and bodies of water in urban and suburban areas.[1]

The great egret is partially migratory, with northern hemisphere birds moving south from areas with colder winters. It is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

In 1953, the great egret in flight was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which was formed in part to prevent the killing of birds for their feathers.[12][13]

On 22 May 2012, a pair of great egrets was announced to be nesting in the UK for the first time at the Shapwick Heath nature reserve in Somerset.[14] The species is a rare visitor to the UK and Ben Aviss of the BBC stated that the news could mean the UK's first great egret colony is established.[14][15] The following week, Kevin Anderson of Natural England confirmed a great egret chick had hatched, making it a new breeding bird record for the UK.[16] In 2017, seven nests in Somerset fledged 17 young,[17] and a second breeding site was announced at Holkham National Nature Reserve in Norfolk where a pair fledged three young.[18]

In 2018, a pair of great egrets nested in Finland for the first time, raising four young in a grey heron colony in Porvoo.[19]


The species breeds in colonies in trees close to large lakes with reed beds or other extensive wetlands, preferably at height of 10–40 feet (3.0–12.2 m).[11] It begins to breed at 2–3 years of age by forming monogamous pairs each season. If the pairing carries over to the next season is not known. The male selects the nest area, starts a nest, and then attracts a female. The nest, made of sticks and lined with plant material, could be up to 3 feet across. Up to six bluish green eggs are laid at one time. Both sexes incubate the eggs and the incubation period is 23–26 days. The young are fed by regurgitation by both parents and they are able to fly within 6–7 weeks.[20]


Great Egret strikes for a Fish - crop
Spearing a fish

The great egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small reptiles and insects, spearing them with its long, sharp bill most of the time by standing still and allowing the prey to come within its striking distance of its bill, which it uses as a spear. It often waits motionless for prey, or slowly stalks its victim.


A long-running field study (1962–2013) suggested that the central European great egrets host 17 different helminth species. Juvenile great egrets were shown to host fewer species, but the intensity of infection was higher in the juveniles than in the adults. Of the digeneans found in central European great egrets, numerous species likely infected their definitive hosts outside of central Europe itself.[21]

In culture

The great egret is depicted on the reverse side of a 5-Brazilian reais banknote.

White Egrets is the title of Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott's 14th collection of poems.

The great egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society.[22]

An airbrushed photograph of a Great Egret in breeding plumage by Werner Krutein is featured in the cover art of the 1992 Faith No More album, "Angel Dust".[23][24]

The name of venerable Shariputra, one of the Buddha's best-known followers, signifies "the son of the egret" (among other possibilities), his mother is said to have had eyes like a great egret.[25]

In Belarus, a commemorative coin has the image of a great egret.

The great egret also features on the New Zealand $2 coin and on the Hungarian 5-forint coin.[26]


Egretta alba MWNH 0917

Egg, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

Great Egret Fish

Adult in nonbreeding plumage

(video) Suddenly flying off in Ibaraki, Japan

Great egret (Ardea alba) with green facial skin

Bright green facial skin during breeding season

Ardea alba -chicks and nest -Morro Bay Heron Rookery -8

Parent on nest with chicks

Great Egret - Centennial Lakes Park, Edina, Minnesota

Great egret at Centennial Lakes Park in Edina, Minnesota

Guide leaflet (1901) (14579611617)

Stuffed specimens at the American Museum of Natural History


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2015). "Ardea alba". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T22697043A84959088. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
  2. ^ Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: Great white egret
  3. ^ Bewick, Thomas (1809). "The Great White Heron (Ardea alba, Lin. – Le Heron blanc, Buff.)". Part II, Containing the History and Description of Water Birds. A History of British Birds. Newcastle: Edward Walker. p. 52.
  4. ^ Bruun, B.; Delin, H.; Svenson, L. (1970). The Hamlyn Guide to Birds to Britain and Europe. London. p. 36. ISBN 0753709562.
  5. ^ Ali, S. (1993). The Book of Indian Birds. Bombay: Bombay Natural History Society. ISBN 0195637313.
  6. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 37, 54. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  7. ^ Gill, F.; Donsker, D., eds. (2014). "IOC World Bird List (v 4.4)". doi:10.14344/IOC.ML.4.4. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Great Egret". All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  9. ^ "Animal Bytes – Egrets". Seaworld. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  10. ^ Dunning Jr., John B., ed. (1992). CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses. CRC Press. ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
  11. ^ a b "Great Egret". Audubon Guide to North American Birds. July 10, 2016.
  12. ^ "Timeline of Accomplishments". National Audubon Society. Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  13. ^ "Historical Highlights: Signature Species". National Audubon Society. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2011.
  14. ^ a b Aviss, Ben (22 May 2012). "Great white egrets nest in UK for first time". BBC Nature. BBC. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  15. ^ Aviss, Ben (31 May 2012). "Great white egrets breed in UK for first time". BBC Nature. BBC. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  16. ^ Hallett, Emma (31 May 2012). "Rare great white egret chick hatches in UK for first time". The Independent. Independent Print Limited. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  17. ^ Adrian Pitches (2017). "England's Mediterranean Breeding Season". British Birds. 110 (9): 430.
  18. ^ "Great White Egret breeds successfully in Norfolk for the first time". Rare Bird Alert. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  19. ^ "Jalohaikara pesi ensimmäistä kertaa Suomessa – Porvoossa haudotut poikaset lennähtivät maailmalle". Yle Uutiset (in Finnish). Retrieved 2018-08-11.
  20. ^ "Great Egret". All about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved July 10, 2016.
  21. ^ Sitko, J.; Heneberg, P. (2015). "Composition, structure and pattern of helminth assemblages associated with central European herons (Ardeidae)". Parasitology International. 64: 100–112. doi:10.1016/j.parint.2014.10.009.
  22. ^ "Great Egret (Ardea alba)". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 31 May 2012.
  23. ^ Moses, Peter (December 1992). "Interview with Mike Bordin". Metal Maniacs. Archived from the original on July 12, 2012. Retrieved August 29, 2008.
  24. ^ Putterford, Mark (December 1992). "Faith No More - Dusted". Rip magazine. Archived from the original on April 15, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2008.
  25. ^ "A direct explanation of Heart Sutra". Purifymind. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
  26. ^

External links

Ardea (genus)

"Megalornis" redirects here. This name was also (invalidly) given to the pseudotooth bird genus Dasornis by Harry Govier Seeley and proposed (but not adopted) for the moa genus Dinornis by Richard Owen.

Ardea is a genus of herons. The genus name comes from Latin ardea "heron". Linnaeus named this genus as the great herons, referring to the generally large size of these birds, typically 80–100 cm or more in length.

These large herons are associated with wetlands where they prey on fish, frogs, and other aquatic species.

Most members of this almost worldwide group breed colonially in trees, building large stick nests. Northern species such as great blue, grey and purple herons may migrate south in winter, although the first two do so only from areas where the waters freeze.

These are powerful birds with large spear-like bills, long necks and long legs, which hunt by waiting motionless or stalking their prey in shallow water before seizing it with a sudden lunge. They have a slow steady flight, with the neck retracted as is characteristic of herons and bitterns; this distinguishes them from storks, cranes, flamingos and spoonbills, which extend their necks.

Arroyo Simi

The Arroyo Simi (Spanish for "Small Stream of Simi", sometimes also referred to as Simi Creek) is a 19-mile (31 km) westwards-running creek, running from the city of Simi Valley and crosses the valley from east to west, before entering the city of Moorpark. It originates at Corriganville Park by the Santa Susana Pass, and streams westwards into Moorpark where it merges with Arroyo Las Posas by Hitch Road. It extends for 12 miles (19 km) through the Simi Valley, and leaves the city limits by Oak Park at the western end Simi Valley, and continues for seven miles in Moorpark. It is a tributary to the Calleguas Creek, which enters the Pacific Ocean by its estuary at Mugu Lagoon by Naval Air Station Point Mugu. Besides an arroyo, it has been described as a channel, waterway, river, drain, wash, and stream. Arroyo Simi drains an area of 343 square miles in southern Ventura County. In its natural state, it is an ephemeral creek, which is only seasonally filled during winter time and periods of heavy rain. Today it is for the most part a concrete lined water drain that flows year round. Tributaries to the Arroyo Simi includes Aaamos Canyon-, Sycamore-, Dry Canyon-, Tapo Canyon-, Las Llajas Canyon-, White Oak-, Runkle Canyon-, and Bus Canyon Creeks, as well as the Erringer Road- and North Simi Drains.Arroyo Simi Greenway is an ongoing construction project by the City of Simi Valley in order to increase the recreational use of its river parkways. The project includes new paved hiking- and biking trails along the Arroyo Simi, exhibit signs, sixteen new trail entries, and more. The area is administrated as the Arroyo Simi Bike Path by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District (RSRPD). It is home to native flora, fish, and avifauna. It is home to fish species such as the brown bullhead, green sunfish, bluntnose minnow, and mosquitofish. It is an important habitat for various species of freshwater-nesting birds in the Simi Valley. Some of the species include the great blue heron, white-faced ibis, black-crowned night heron, green heron, black-necked stilt, great egret, snowy egret, belted kingfisher, black phoebe, killdeer, common yellowthroat, greater yellowlegs, American coot, and mallard.

Big Break Regional Shoreline

Big Break Regional Shoreline is a regional park in Oakley, Contra Costa County, northern California. It is a part of the East Bay Regional Park District system.

Brazilian real

The Brazilian real (Portuguese: real, pl. reais; sign: R$; code: BRL) is the official currency of Brazil. It is subdivided into 100 centavos. The Central Bank of Brazil is the central bank and the issuing authority. The real replaced the Brazilian cruzeiro.

As of April 2016, the real is the nineteenth most traded currency in the world by value.

Eastern great egret

The eastern great egret (Ardea alba modesta), a white heron in the genus Ardea, is usually considered a subspecies of the great egret (A. alba). It was first described by British ornithologist John Edward Gray in 1831.


Egrets are herons which have white or buff plumage, and develop fine plumes (usually milky white) during the breeding season. Egrets are not a biologically distinct group from the herons and have the same build.

Estero River (Florida)

The Estero River is a 6.4-mile-long (10.3 km) waterway in south Lee County, Florida, United States, near the census-designated place of Estero. It flows from east to west, emptying into Estero Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico.

Fertő-Hanság National Park

Fertő-Hanság National Park (Hungarian: Fertő-Hanság Nemzeti Park) is a national Park in North-West Hungary in Győr-Moson-Sopron county. It was created in 1991, and officially opened together with the connecting Austrian Neusiedler See National Park the same year (both parks are attached to Lake Neusiedl/Lake Fertő). The park covers 235.88 km², and consists of two main areas.

Lake Fertő is the third largest lake in Central-Europe, and the westernmost of the great continental salt lakes of Eurasia. Because of the shallow level of water and the prevailing wind, the size and shape of the lake changes very often. The area gives home to various kinds of birds, like the great egret, purple heron, common spoonbill and greylag goose. During the migration season species of the family Scolopacidae appear. Rare birds include red-breasted goose, white-tailed eagle and hen harrier. The lake is inhabited by weatherfish, northern pike and ziege. On the meadows west from the lake vegetation of rare plants like the yellow lady's slipper, fly orchid, the Hungarian iris and Iris pumila and various butterfly species can be found, while the eastern puszta areas are covered by Puccinellia peisonis, Aster tripolium, A. pannonicum and Suaeda maritima.

Intermediate egret

The intermediate egret, median egret, smaller egret, or yellow-billed egret (Ardea intermedia) is a medium-sized heron. Some taxonomists put the species in the genus Egretta or Mesophoyx. It is a resident breeder from east Africa across the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia and Australia.

List of birds of Jinja

This list of birds found in the area around the town of Jinja, Uganda, the area is on the edge of the fresh water Lake Victoria and fast flowing water of the Nile.

African darter - Anhinga rufa

Common bulbul - Pycnonotus barbatus

Pink-backed pelican - Pelecanus rufescens

Yellow-billed kite - Milvus aegyptius

Red bishop - Euplectes orixCormorant

Reed cormorant - Microcarbo africanus

White-breasted cormorant - Phalacrocorax lucidus


Grey crowned crane - Balearica regulorumCrow

Pied crow - Corvus albusDucks and geese

Egyptian goose - Alopochen aegyptiacuHamerkop

Hamerkop - Scopus umbrettaHerons and egrets

Grey heron - Ardea cinerea

Great egret - Ardea alba

Cattle egret - Bubulcus ibis

Little egret - Egretta garzettaHornbill

African grey hornbill - Tockus nasutus

Black-and-white-casqued hornbill - Bycanistes subcylindricus

Abyssinian ground hornbill - Bucorvus abyssinicusIbis

African sacred ibis - Threskiornis aethiopicus

Hadeda ibis - Bostrychia hagedashKingfisher

Pied kingfisher - Ceryle rudis

Woodland kingfisher - Halcyon senegalensis

Old World flycatchers

White-browed robin-chat - Cossypha heugliniPelicans

Great white pelican - PelecanusStorks

African openbill - Anastomus lamelligerus

Marabou stork - Leptoptilos crumeniferShrikes

Crimson-breasted shrike - Laniarius atrococcineusSunbirds

Northern double-collared sunbird - Cinnyris reichenowiTuraco

Eastern plantain-eater - Crinifer zonurus

Ross's turaco - Musophaga rossaeWagtail

African pied wagtail - Motacilla aguimp

Cape wagtail - Motacilla capensisWeavers

Yellow-mantled weaver - Ploceus tricolor

List of national parks of Hungary

Hungary has ten national parks which cover approximately 10 percent of the country's territory. The parks are managed by the National Parks of Hungary government agency (Hungarian: Nemzeti park igazgatóság).

MacGregor Point Provincial Park

MacGregor Point Provincial Park is a park located on Lake Huron, off of Bruce Road 33 near Port Elgin, Ontario, Canada.

The varied habitat found within the park includes a seven-kilometre stretch of coast, coastal wetlands, forests, and dunes. Although the beaches in the park can be used for swimming, better beaches can be found at Port Elgin or nearby Inverhuron Provincial Park. Recreational activities include hiking, cycling, canoeing, and kayaking. Some carnivorous plants grow in the park. Rare dwarf lake iris and the elusive spotted turtle appear in the spring. Migrating birds, including the black-crowned night heron and the great egret, have been spotted as well.

The park is an all-season destination for camping, hiking, swimming, wildlife and bird watching. In winter, visitors can camp in yurts, cross-country ski, hike, or go skating.Yurt camping is available in this park in the Birch Boulevard section of Algonquin Campground along with regular electrical sites that are available year-round.

At the end of May and beginning of June, the Huron Fringe Birding Festival is held in the park.

This provincial park was created in 1975 after nearby Inverhuron Provincial Park was initially closed. The majority of the facilities in the park were developed over the last half of the 1970s including the visitor center, which is due for expansion in the near future. The full list of facilities is as follows: Camping, Electrical Campsites, Flush Toilets, Laundry, Showers, Day Use Area, Group Camping, Playground, Park Store, Visitor Centre.

Port Cygnet Conservation Area

The Port Cygnet Conservation Area is located in Cygnet, Tasmania, approximately 65 km (40 mi) southwest of the state's capital city, Hobart. The reserve has an area of 103 ha (250 acres). It is an open estuary environment including a listed wetland of state significance, being the only Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Bruny Bioregion representing the Open Estuaries Biounit.Port Cygnet was first proclaimed as a wildlife sanctuary in 1952 for the protection of the foreshore and wetlands. The marine component of the reserve area was proclaimed Port Cygnet Marine Conservation Area under the Nature Conservation Act 2002 on 9 December 2009.

The reserve is significant as a refuge area for numerous bird species including migratory birds such as Latham's snipe (Gallinago hardwickii), the Great egret (Egretta alba) and the Greater crested tern (Sterna bergii).

The wetland harbours species such as the Pied oystercatcher (Haematopus longirostris) and White-bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

Reddish egret

The reddish egret (Egretta rufescens) is a medium-sized heron. It is a resident breeder in Central America, The Bahamas, the Caribbean, the Gulf Coast of the United States, and Mexico. There is post-breeding dispersal to well north of the nesting range. In the past, this bird was a victim of the plume trade.

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, there are only 1,500 to 2,000 nesting pairs of reddish egrets in the United States — and most of these are in Texas. They are classified as "threatened" in Texas and receive special protection.

Sajnakhali Wildlife Sanctuary

Sajnakhali Wildlife Sanctuary is a 362 km2 area in the northern part of the Sundarbans delta in South 24 Parganas district, West Bengal, India. The area is mainly mangrove scrub, forest and swamp. It was set up as a sanctuary in 1976. It is home to a rich population of different species of wildlife, such as water fowl, heron, pelican, spotted deer, rhesus macaques, wild boar, tigers, water monitor lizards, fishing cats, otters, Olive ridley turtle, crocodiles, Batagur terrapins, and migratory birds.

Satchinez swamps

The Satchinez swamps (or Banat delta; Romanian: Mlaștinile Satchinez) form a ornithological nature reservation that spreads over 242 hectares (600 acres) near Satchinez, in Timiș County, Romania. It was founded in 1942, at Dionisie Linția's proposal. The reservation was expanded to cover 1,194 hectares (2,950 acres) in 2002. The swamps of Satchinez were declared as a protected area in 1999, during the project Life Natura. The European Commission invested 3.5 million lei in the area.

This natural habitat is a reminiscence of the old swamps that covered these lands until the 8th century. The lush vegetation represents a very good camouflage during the nesting season, and the reservation is home to large numbers of protected birds including the pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta), the little egret (Egretta garzetta), the great egret (Egretta alba), the black-winged stilt (Himantopus himantopus), the grey heron (Ardea cinerea), the squacco heron (Ardeola ralloides), the little bittern (Ixobrychus minutus), the purple heron (Ardea purpurea) and the black-crowned night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). Foxes, rabbits, deers and wild boars can also be seen.

The reservation can be visited between 15 April and 15 September, and during mild autumns, the reservation can be visited until October.

Sultanpur National Park

Sultanpur National Park (Hindi: सुल्तानपुर राष्ट्रीय वन्यजीव अभयारण्य) (formerly Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary) is located at Sultanpur village on Gurugram-Jhajhar highway, 15 km from Gurugram, Haryana and 50 km from Delhi in India.

Thanedar Wala

Thanedar Wala is a game reserve and wetland Ramsar site, located 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Lakki, Lakki Marwat District (formerly in Bannu District), North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan. Most of the area consists of a complex of braided river channels and sandy or muddy islands up to 4 km (2.5 mi) wide. The site covers 4,047 ha (10,000 acres). It supports wintering great egret, ruddy shelduck, common teal, mallard, northern shoveller, common pochard and ferruginous duck. Collared pratincole and little tern breed on the reserve.Thanedar Wala was designated a Ramsar site on July 23, 1976. A monitoring mission in May 1990 recommended that it be retained on the Ramsar List.

White heron

White heron may refer to:

Great egret, (Ardea alba), also known as the great white egret, common egret or white heron

Eastern great egret (Ardea alba modesta), also known as kōtuku in New Zealand

"A White Heron", a short story by Sarah Orne Jewett


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