Great Egret

Ardea alba

Great Egrets are birds with worldwide distribution. Depending on where encountered, they are known as the Great White Egret, Common Egret, White Heron, or in past times, the Great White Heron, however now this last example is used to describe the white morph of the Great Blue Heron.

Great Egrets are winter birds on the coastal regions within about 100 miles of the Pacific from Washington south through the Mexican border, and year-round residents at coastal wetlands and river valleys. Year-round these birds live in the lower Mississippi Valley and Southeast USA. Summers will find a few birds migrating inland as far as the upper Mississippi Valley and parts of the Great Basin.

My encounters with these stealth hunters have been in California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and in Texas. Sometimes in North America, these tall birds will get confused with the smaller Snowy Egret, but if you look for bill and leg color, you will find the Great Egret has legs that are not as dark as the black legs and yellow feet of the Snowy, and the Snowy’s bill is black, while the Great Egret’s is orangish yellow.

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