With majestic white plumage, long legs and sharp beak, the Great White Egret is one of the most recognized birds around the world for its beauty and elegance. It used to be an endangered species because their feathers were used to decorate luxury hats and dresses, but thanks to the hard work of ecologists, the specie is no longer endangered. Keep on reading to learn all about the beautiful White Egret.
This kind of bird usually lives in lagoons and lakes. They usually live in freshwater, brackish and marine wetlands. They are found in mainly humid and warm climate zones. During the breeding season, they are relocate to colonies in trees or shrubs with other waterfowl. Yet in winter, they retreat from their breeding areas in the north and spends the winter only in places where the waters remain open. After the breeding season, they often wanders north at the end of summer.
The Great Egret is partially migratory, but generally, the populations live in the tropical and subtropical regions of America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. Here, at the Amazon rainforest, it is common to see large groups of them.
The Great Egret mainly eats fish and crustaceans, frogs, salamanders, snakes and aquatic insects, but also amphibians, reptiles, birds, small mammals and invertebrates including dragonflies, damselflies, beetles, and bugs. Great Egrets generally look for their food standing or walking in shallow waters, waiting for fish that swim nearby. It can feed in flocks or with other herons, and sometimes steals food from smaller birds.
The Great Egret walks with the neck extended and the wings close to the body. They usually form monogamous pairs in each breeding season, although the couple bond is not for life. At the beginning of the breeding season, adults grow long feathers on their backs, which they raise to court the females. The males perform most of the exhibits, which may involve grooming the wings, bending the head, holding and waving wings in the beak and stretching the neck.
More than 95% of the herons in North America were killed by their feathers in the late 19th and early 20th century. Due to this incident from 1910, the hunting of feathers was prohibited and the populations of the Great Heron quickly began to recover. As a result, this bird became the symbol of the National Audubon Society.
Today their populations seem stable. Given that Great Egrets are big and highly mobile birds with flexible habitat preferences, the environmental changes can affect them easily. That’s why we must do our part to help the conservation of species like this and their extinction.