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Merlin Bird ID

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    Great Egret

    ID Info
    Silhouette HeronsHerons

    Great Egret

    Ardea alba
    • ORDER: Pelecaniformes
    • FAMILY: Ardeidae
    Basic Description

    The elegant Great Egret is a dazzling sight in many a North American wetland. Slightly smaller and more svelte than a Great Blue Heron, these are still large birds with impressive wingspans. They hunt in classic heron fashion, standing immobile or wading through wetlands to capture fish with a deadly jab of their yellow bill. Great Egrets were hunted nearly to extinction for their plumes in the late nineteenth century, sparking conservation movements and some of the first laws to protect birds.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Great EgretRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    Visit a pond or coastal marsh and look for an all-white bird—slightly smaller than a Great Blue Heron, with black legs and a yellow bill. It may be wading slowly or standing stock-still, peering intently at the water as it searches for fish. If you live outside of the species’ breeding range, you may still see Great Egrets in late summer as they move about widely before heading to their wintering grounds.

    Other Names
    • Garza Blanca (Spanish)
    • Grande Aigrette (French)
    • Cool Facts