Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egrets

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Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

 

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is a small white heron. It is the American counterpart to the very similar Old World Little Egret, which has established a foothold in the Bahamas.

 

Description

Adults are typically 61 centimetres (24 in) long and weigh 375 grams (13.2 oz)

They have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. The area of the upper bill, in front of the eyes, is yellow but turns red during the breeding season, when the adults also gain recurved plumes on the back, making for a "shaggy" effect.

The juvenile looks similar to the adult, but the base of the bill is paler, and a green or yellow line runs down the back of the legs.

 

Breeding / Nesting

Their breeding habitat is large inland and coastal wetlands from the lower Great Lakes and southwestern United States to South America. The breeding range in eastern North America extends along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from Maine to Texas, and inland along major rivers and lakes.

They nest in colonies, often with other waders, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Their flat, shallow nests are made of sticks and lined with fine twigs and rushes. Three to four greenish-blue, oval eggs are incubated by both adults. The young leave the nest in 20 to 25 days and hop about on branches near the nest before finally departing.

In warmer locations, some Snowy Egret are permanent residents; northern populations migrate to Central America and the West Indies. They may wander north after the breeding season, very rarely venturing to western Europe—the first bird sighted in Britain wintered in Scotland from 2001–2002.

Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)In warmer locations, some Snowy Egret are permanent residents; northern populations migrate to Central America and the West Indies. They may wander north after the breeding season, very rarely venturing to western Europe—the first bird sighted in Britain wintered in Scotland from 2001–2002.

 

Diet / Feeding

The birds eat fish, crustaceans, insects and small reptiles. They stalk prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet, flushing prey into view, as well "dip-fishing" by flying with their feet just over the water. Snowy Egrets may also stand still and wait to ambush prey, or hunt for insects stirred up by domestic animals in open fields.

 

Status

At one time, the beautiful plumes of the Snowy Egret were in great demand by market hunters as decorations for women's hats. This reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels. Now protected in the USA by law, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, this bird's population has rebounded.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

 

Snowy Egret with chicksReferences

  • BirdLife International (2008). Egretta thula. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 9 February 2009. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern.

  • Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-8014-9600-4

  • National Geographic, Field Guide to the Birds of North America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6

Copyright: Wikipedia. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from Wikipedia.org ... Additional information and photos added by Avianweb.

 

Snowy Egrets

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) - with fish in its beak

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) chick

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) - head detail

Snowy Egret, full breeding plumage


 

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