Western Great Egret

Western Great Egret Ardea alba

Type of Animal:

Wetlands, marshes, ponds, lakes, open lake edges, mudflats, rivers, flooded fields, shores, coastal areas, swamps, mangroves, ricefields, cultivated areas, lagoons, estuaries, trees/shrubs near water, thickets, reedbed areas near large lakes, islands, impoundments, streams, tidal flats, canals, ditches, bogs, upland areas

In Americas, ranges from S Canada to Tierra Del Fuego (also found in Falkland & Galapagos Islands), also found in Caribbean. Also found in Europe, Asia Minor, Caucasus, C Asia, Middle/Near East areas in N Lebanon, E Syria, Iraq, Iran, SW Afghanistan, & NE UAE, goes as far E as Mongolia, NE China, & far SE Siberia, & also in N Indian subcontinent, China bordering Indian Subcontinent. In Africa, found on N coast & in Sub-Saharan Africa. Also found in Madagascar.

Large tall white heron, straight long yellow bill, black legs/feet, bill darkens to orange/lower legs lighten in breeding season, long neck, grow long lacy flowing plumes in breeding season

Fish, amphibians, crustaceans, insects, reptiles, birds, small mammals, polychaete worms

Status in Wild:

Monitoring of migration/breeding patterns. Ban on use of plumes in early 1900s, which made populations dangerously low.

Breeding colonies (heronries) can range from 14-4,000 birds. Feeding groups usually number 2-20 birds. Sometimes feed alone.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Heronry

Male: 2-3 lbs
Female: 1.5-2.3 lbs

3.5-4 weeks

Life Span:
5-10 years in wild, 15-20 years in captivity

Male: 3.4 ft
Female: 3.08 ft

Body Length:
2.6 ft, same for both sexes

Tail Length:
0.3 in, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are crocodilians, felids, otters, bears, raptors, large snakes, canids, & raccoons. Crows, vultures, snapping turtles, & snakes take chicks/juveniles.
In late 1800s were hunted to dangerously low numbers due to demand for plumes. Now, worldwide population more than 1 million.
Colonies often have multiple wading bird species in them.
They’re ambush predators, often standing very still for long periods of time.
Females lay 1-6 eggs per clutch & can have 2 broods per year-siblicide very common w/ larger chicks often pecking/stabbing smaller chicks to death.
Though common & often seen in wild, they can be shy & are not easily approachable.
They have 4.3-4.7 ft wingspan.
Males perform most courtship displays, such as wing preening, head ducking, holding/shaking twigs in bill, & neck stretching.

Fun Fact(s):
Symbol of the National Audubon Society.
Sometimes hybridize w/ Eastern Great Egrets in Asia & hybridize w/ Great White/Great Blue Herons in areas where found together. Sometimes, these birds also known as Great White Herons as well as Great White Egret, Large Egret, & Common Egret.

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