Great Egret

Ardea alba

Summary 5

Great Egrets (Ardea alba are large (3-4 feet tall) white wading birds with yellow bills and black legs that are occasionally found on campus hunting in drainage ditches and creeks near perimeter road. Male and female Great Egrets are similar in appearance.

Similar species:The Snowy Egret (not known from Foothill campus, but common in the wetlands around the SF Bay) is much smaller than a Great Egret, and has a more slender black bill and black legs with bright-yellow feet.

Great Blue Herons, which also visit campus to hunt in the grassy areas and drainage ditches are bluish gray in color and have a white head with a black stripe over the eye. They are also larger than Great Egrets

Where on campus? 6

Great Egrets are usually seen on the grassy slopes along Perimeter Road and in drainage ditches hunting small mammals such as gophers and voles and frogs. They do not nest on campus.

Habitat 6

Fresh and saltwater wetlands are the primary habitat of Great Egrets. They always nest near bodies of water, though they may forage upland.

LIfe History 6

Nesting Great Egrets nest in colonies, called rookeries. Nests are started by males using sticks high up in trees. Females will sometimes join in the nest building process. Females may produce up to 2 broods/year. Chicks are altricial. Both male and female Great Egrets have distinctive breeding plumage consisting of long, white feathers on their backs, orange-yellow bill, and green facial skin.

Feeding Great Egrets mainly eat fish, but may also take crustaceans and small vertebrates (such as frogs, lizards, and small mammals) when the opportunity arises. Great Egrets may be best observed wading in shallow water, where they may be seen plunging their bills into the water to catch fish. (EOL)

Distribution 6

Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world.

Migration 6

Migratory, though some are also residents in the Bay Area.

Sources and Credits

  1. (c) Mike Baird, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  2. (c) Mike Baird, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  3. (c) Robert, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC),
  4. (c) Mike Baird, some rights reserved (CC BY),
  5. Adapted by gillian360 from a work by (c) Unknown, some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-SA),
  6. (c) gillian360, some rights reserved (CC BY-SA)

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