Long-legged Waders

Great Egret Great Egret
Ardea alba


35-41" (89-104 cm). W. 4'7" (1.4 m). A large, all-white heron with a yellow bill and black legs. In breeding plumage, has long lacy plumes on back. Much smaller Snowy Egret has black bill and legs and yellow feet. In southern Florida, white form of Great Blue Heron is similar but larger, with greenish-yellow legs.


Fresh and salt marshes, marshy ponds, and tidal flats.


3-5 pale blue-green eggs placed on a platform of sticks in a tree or bush. Nests in colonies, often with other species of herons.

Great Egret
Great Egret


Breeds locally from Oregon south to western Mexico, and from Minnesota to Mississippi Valley and Southeast, and along Atlantic Coast north to southern New England. Winters regularly from Oregon south through Southwest, Texas, and Gulf Coast states to Mexico, and on Atlantic Coast north to New Jersey. Also in tropical America and warmer parts of Old World.


A guttural croak. Also loud squawks at nesting colonies.


Formerly known as the "American Egret," "Common Egret," "Large Egret," "White Egret," "Great White Egret," and "Great White Heron," this bird's official name in North America is now Great Egret. One of the most magnificent of our herons, it has fortunately recovered from historic persecution by plume hunters. But it is still not out of danger: The destruction of wetlands, especially in the West where colonies are few and widely scattered, poses a current threat to these majestic birds. Like the Great Blue Heron, it usually feeds alone, stalking fish, frogs, snakes, and crayfish in shallow water. Each summer many individuals, especially young ones, wander far north of the breeding grounds.