Great Egret

large white great egret on a dirt trail near a marsh
Great egret at Cattail Marsh in Beaumont

NPS Photo / Soren George-Nichol

Ardea alba

Great egrets are large white birds that can be found in the southern part of the Big Thicket year-round and can be found throughout the Big Thicket during the summer. They are carnivorous and live primarily off of fish but will eat a variety of small animals from crustaceans to snakes. They hunt by standing or walking slowly through the water and using their long, sharp bill to spear their prey.

Great egrets usually nest in colonies but will also nest in isolated pairs. Males will select a nest site and display there to attract females. Males will usually pick nest sites between ten and 40 feet above the ground and will display by calling or doing flight displays. Both parents will work together to build a platform of sticks that they use as a nest, and both parents will help incubate the eggs and feed the young chicks. Great egrets are able to fly six or seven weeks after hatching.

looking up at a great egret in flight in a cloudy sky
Great egret in flight

NPS Photo / Scott Sharaga

Kaufman, K. (2001). Lives of North American Birds. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Mock, D. W. (1978). Pair-formation displays of the Great Egret. The Condor, 80(2), 159-172.

Last updated: September 19, 2021

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