great egret

Great Egret

Ardea alba

CLASS Aves | ORDER Ciconiiformes | FAMILY Ardeidae

RANGE From southern Canada southward to Argentina, and in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia

HABITAT Salt and freshwater marshes, marshy ponds and tidal flats

DIET Mostly fish but also insects, crustaceans and amphibians

35 oz

3 - 3.5 ft

4 - 4.75 ft

23 - 27 days

1 - 6 eggs

IUCN Status
Least Concern
great egret

The male great egret chooses the nesting site and builds a nest platform of sticks and twigs in a tree or bush before he selects a mate. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks. The chicks fledge in about six weeks. Aggression among nestlings is common and large chicks frequently kill their smaller siblings.

Plume hunters in the late 1800s and early 1900s reduced North American populations by more than 95 percent. Their plumes (feathers) which were popular in ladies fashion in the 19th century. 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.