Birder’s Notebook; Great Egret

Birder’s Notebook by Bob Andrini; 20 August Entry. Equal in size to the great blue heron, the great egret is all white with black legs. The scientific name for the great egret is Ardea alba (for those that remember, the genus name for the great blue heron was also Ardea): Ardea from the Latin for heron, and alba from the Latin meaning white color.

After breeding, young egrets from the south will head north, hence we see many of them in our area in mid-summer. They were aggressively hunted for their breeding plumes (an ounce of plumes were worth more per ounce than gold) and as a result, conservation efforts were developed to outlaw the hunting of the species.

Herons and egrets hold their necks folded back while they fly giving them a prehistoric appearance. Field marks for the great egret include black legs, all white body and yellow bill (during breeding time, they will have a greenish patch by the bill.


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