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Great Egret - Mark Eagles
Photo: Mark Eagles

Great Egret

Ardea alba

Size: 76cm-1m , wingspan 1.5m.

Large, white, graceful bird with long, kinked neck which is longer than the body. Often leaning forward in stance. In flight has slow deliberate wingbeats, neck folded and with long legs trailing. Bill yellow, sometimes with dark tip. In breeding season the bill is black and long white plumes develop, cascading down the back.

Call: Deep, guttural croaks.

Breeds: Throughout the year, but mostly March to May in the north.

Nest: Platform of sticks in trees or reed beds, often in mixed colonies of waterbirds, in wetlands. Eggs 3-5, pale blue-green. Both sexes incubate eggs for 25-26 days. Young fly at about 50 days.

Habitat: mudflats, edges of rivers, lakes and dams. Feeds on small marine creatures. Wades quietly and deliberately through the water, often freezing for periods of time while hunting. Usually solitary, or in small groups.

Worldwide distribution throughout tropical and warm temperate regions.


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