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great egret

Tensas River NWR



Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis
Great Egrets Ardea alba
Snowy Egrets Egretta thula

At a Glance

  • IDENTIFICATION: Large or medium white heron, long plumes during mating season
    Cattle Egrets: white, yellow legs and beak, golden plumage on back, chest, and head during breeding season
    Great Egrets: Tall, white, yellow orange beak, black legs
    Snowy Egrets: White, black beak and legs, yellow feet
  • COMMONLY CONFUSED WITH: Cranes, other herons
    Cattle Egrets: Snowy egrets
    Great Egrets: Cranes, juvenile little blue herons
    Snowy Egrets: Cattle egrets
    Cattle Egrets: Least Concern - Population Increasing
    Great Egrets: Least Concern - Population Unknown
    Snowy Egrets: Least Concern - Population Increasing
  • DIET: Insects, fish, worms, eggs, mice, reptiles, crustaceans
  • Cattle Egrets: Bird eggs, crickets, earthworms, flies, frogs, grasshoppers, moths, spiders
    Great Egrets: Fish, amphibians, mice, reptiles
    Snowy Egrets: Crustaceans, fish, frogs, insects, worms

  • HABITAT: Forests near lakes, marshes, ponds, rivers, streams, swamps, wetlands
  • NESTING: Lay 3 to 6 eggs in nests in trees in March or April, clutch hatches in 23 - 26 days, cattle egrets sometimes lay eggs in nests of other egrets and herons
  • BEHAVIOR: Active during day, nest and mate in colonies of other egrets and herons, males fight over nesting territory, monogamous for the mating season, only migrate in severe winters
    Cattle Egrets: Hunt along water edge for fish and frogs, follow cattle and eat insects off cattle
    Great Egrets: Wade in water, often standing still to wait for prey, then strike
    Snowy Egrets: Use their yellow feet to attract prey; running along shallows, hunt from air
  • THREATS: Alligators, birds of prey, raccoons, rat snakes
    Cattle Egrets: Barred owls, Cooper’s hawks, crows, grackles, great horned owls, Peregrine Falcons, raccoons, red foxes
    Great Egrets: Great horned owls, raccoons, red-tailed hawks
    Snowy Egrets: Alligators, barred owls, common black hawks, crows, gray rat snakes, great horned owls, raccoons
  • SPECIAL SKILLS: Nesting in colonies
  • SEASONS FOR VIEWING IN NORTH LOUISIANA: Spring, summer, fall, most winters