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Great Egret


Great Egret Photo

The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as the Great White Egret or Common Egret or (now not in use) Great White Heron, is a large egret that can be spotted on Bird Point camera. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, in southern Europe and Asia it is rather localized. It is sometimes confused with the Great White Heron in Florida, which is a white morph of the closely related Great Blue Heron (A. herodias). Note however that the name Great White Heron has occasionally been used to refer to the Great Egret.

Description

The Great Egret is a large bird with all-white plumage that can reach one meter in height and weigh up to 950 g. It is thus only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Heron (A. cinerea). Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season. In breeding plumage, delicate ornamental feathers are borne on the back. Males and females are identical in appearance; juveniles look like non-breeding adults.

It has a slow flight, with its neck retracted. This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes, ibises and spoonbills, which extend their necks in flight.

The Great Egret is not normally a vocal bird; at breeding colonies, however, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk.

Like all egrets, it is a member of the heron family, Ardeidae. Traditionally classified with the storks in the Ciconiiformes, the Ardeidae might in fact be closer relatives of pelicans and belong in the Pelecaniformes instead. The Great Egret – unlike the typical egrets – does not belong to the genus Egretta but together with the great herons is today placed in Ardea. In the past, however, it was sometimes placed in Egretta or separated in a monotypic genus Casmerodius.