Great Egret
Photos by Bruce Dayton

Great Egret (Ardea alba) Picture

ORDER: Ciconiiformes
FAMILY: Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, Bitterns - 12 Species)
Great Egret (Ardea alba)

CLICK - on any silver bar to return to top of page

Great Egret

The Great Egret has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks during flight.


The Great Egret is a large (36-40) wading bird, and a member of the heron family.
DESCRIPTION The Great Egret is a large bird with all white plumage, a slender body with long black legs and feet. It has a long, straight, yellow bill.

Sexes are similar in appearance, but the males are slightly larger.

NESTING Clutch size ranges from 2-5 eggs, which are incubated in 24 to 28 days. It builds a bulky stick nest in colonies with other egrets and herons.
RANGE During summer breeding and migration, they are common in many parts of the United States. During winter they move south to a few of the southern states around the gulf area and into Mexico, Central America and northern South America.
HABITAT The great egret favorite habitat is along salt and freshwater marshes, marshy ponds and tidal flats.
DIET A Great Egrets will often wait motionless in shallow water waiting for prey, where using its long sharp bill, it will spear fish, frogs, snakes, and crayfish. Great Egrets may also use their feet to stir up the water and scare up a victim. When fishing, they may tilt their heads to one side, possibly to avoid the glare of the sun's reflection on the water.
SPECIAL The Great Egret's beautiful breeding feathers where in huge demand for hat decorations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Heavy hunting nearly drove the Great Egret to extinction before a public outcry resulted in laws to protect the bird. The greatest threat to them now is the destruction of their wetland habitat.
Great Egret
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Seneca County, New York
CLICK - Great Egret Picture CLICK - Great Egret Picture
GtEg_050A_015727 GtEg_050A_005429
CLICK - Great Egret Picture
Hermit Thrush
Drawing by
Louis Agassiz Fuertes
CLICK - Hermit Thrush Drawing
Nocturnal Animals
A nocturnal animal is one that sleeps during the day and is active at night. The intermediate crepuscular schedule (twilight activity) is also common. Some species are active both during the day and night.

Return to
Birds of North America

For Fine Art Scenic Prints

Please email with any ideas or comments concerning this web page.

The images on this web page are copyrighted 2003 - 2007 by Bruce Dayton. I want to share my photos to promote conservation and to help people identify and learn about the birds and other creatures that live with us on the North American continent. Please do not use any of my work in any non-profit or for-profit project without first getting written permission from me. You can ask for permission by emailing me at All reproductions must bear an appropriate credit.

NOTE: This site will be updated as time and pictures become available.

Visit Mammals of North America

Great Egret ( Ardea alba )
Updated 10-20-2008