Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egret

A Great Egret is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Great Egrets. We have also put together a list of fun Great Egret t-shirts, Great Egret bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.

About Great Egrets

It is the symbol of the environmental conservation organization in North America, The National Audubon Society. Commonly known as the common egret, it is a large and widely distributed bird across Asia, Africa, and The Americas. They are medium-sized birds with great wingspans and have a similar hunting style like a Heron, they wade through wetlands standing still to catch fish using their yellow bill.

Description and Identification

Great Egrets wade in shallow water to hunt fish, frogs, and other small aquatic animals. The great egret is a little over three feet tall with a wingspan of almost five feet. Its feathers are entirely white. It has long grey to black legs, with non-webbed feet with very long toes.It’s very slender, looks almost delicate with graceful S-shaped neck, oval/triangular head, relatively longer bill. Bill remains mostly yellow in all plumages. In non-breeding plumage, the base to lower mandible is visibly paler.

Great Egret Color Pattern

Their whole body is covered by white feathers and has a long orange bill and black legs.

Great Egret Size

This large bird brags of a long S-shaped neck which it tucks in flight and instead extends its legs. Adults have respective measurements as follows:

  • Length 94-104 cm
  • Weight 1000g
  • Wingspan 131-145 cm
Great Egret Picture
Great Egret Migration

Great Egret Behavior

The Great Egret has a unique walking style extending its neck as it wades through the wetlands and holding its wings close to its body. It has a graceful flight motion tucking its head in its shoulders and its black long legs behind it. They are monogamous, forming pairs during the breeding season. During the breeding season, they grow orange feathers on their backs as they court the females. Courtship displays involve the male holding and shaking twigs in their bill and stretching its neck.

What Great Egrets Eat and Their Food

The great egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fishfrogs, small mammals, and occasionally small reptiles and insects, spearing them with its long, sharp bill most of the time by standing still and allowing the prey to come within the striking distance of its bill, which it uses as a spear. It often waits motionless for prey, or slowly stalks its victim., waiting for an animal to come within range of their long necks and blade-like bills. The deathblow is delivered with a quick thrust of the sharp bill, and the prey is swallowed whole. Aside from fish, they also eat crustaceans, frogs, salamanders, snakes, aquatic insects. In open fields, great egrets may catch grasshoppers, rodents, small rails, other birds, moles and mice. The great egret usually feeds in the early morning and evening hours.

Their main diet is mostly aquatic, consisting of fish, small mammals, crayfish, amphibians, and reptiles. Its hunting grounds is freshwater wetlands usually belly-deep or shallower. They fish in groups or alone.

Where Great Egrets Live and Their Habitat

Great Egrets are associated with all water bodies. They typically stay away from coasts but are regular in estuaries. They are found mainly in marshes, ponds, shores, mud and flats. They usually forage in rather open situations, along edges of lakes, large marshes, shallow coastal lagoons and estuaries and rivers in wooded country. The great egret lives along salt and freshwater marshes, marshy ponds and tidal flats.

The Great Egret is found in freshwater marine wetlands where they live in colonies during the breeding season. In colonies, they can be found on marshes, lakes, and ponds. During migration, they use the same habitat for stopovers and wintering grounds.

Range and Migration

Great Egrets are resident to medium-distance migrants. Most Great Egrets move south for winter, travelling as far as the West Indies or southern Central America. They migrate by day in small flocks. During summer, Great Egrets may stay as far north as Massachusetts. Birds from the southern U.S. may not migrate at all. In late summer and fall, Great Egrets migrate widely over the continent.


The Great Egrets first breed at the age of 2-3 years. They nest in colonies usually and rarely in isolated pairs. They tend to nest high in tree or shrub, usually, 10-40′ above ground or water, sometimes very low in thicket or marsh, sometimes up to 90′ high in tall cypress. The nest is built by both males and females and is made to a platform of sticks. Courtship displays include calling, circular display flight, stretching neck up with bill pointed skyward. Their nests are often on islands that are isolated from mammalian predators such as raccoons. They are monogamous, and both parents incubate their three to four eggs. Young egrets are aggressive towards one another in the nest, and stronger siblings often kill their weaker kin so that not all survive to fledge in two to three weeks.

Great Egret Lifecycle

While breeding the male chooses the nesting grounds and constructs the nest later using sticks and twigs. A female lays 1 to 6 eggs in her clutch and incubates the eggs for a period of 23 to 27 days and the hatchlings spend 21 to 25 days before they leave the nest.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

  • Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription

    $20.00 / month
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  • Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $20.00 / month and a $72.00 sign-up fee
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  • Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $20.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Great Egrets

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Great Egrets are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

  • Birding Binoculars

    Birding Binoculars

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  • Kids Binocular 8x21

    Kids Binoculars

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Great Egret T-shirts

If you love the Great Egret you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Great Egret Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Great Egret is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

  • Bird Banner with iron on patches

    Bird Banner

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Great Egret Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Great Egret. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month. 

Bird Feeders For Great Egrets

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

Best Bird Houses for Great Egrets

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great. 

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