Ardeidae, the heron and egret family.
Least Concern IUCN.
Temperate and tropical areas worldwide.
Near any form of water: streams, lakes, ponds, mud flats, saltwater and freshwater marshes. Wooded swamps and wetlands are their preferred habitat.
The great egret is depicted on the reverse side of the Brazilian 5-reis banknote.
These herons are large, all white, with long, black legs and feet for wading, and a long, sharp yellow beak with a dark top edge for stabbing prey. During the breeding season, they have long plumes on their backs but no crests or plumes on their heads and their beaks become orange-yellow. At dusk they gather from surrounding areas to form communal roosts.
They are diurnal feeders, whose diet consists of frogs, snakes, crayfish, fish, mice, crickets, aquatic insects, grasshoppers and many other insects.
Adults have no non-human predators. However, eggs and nestlings are predated on by crows, vultures and raccoons.
They are very territorial when it comes to courtship, nesting and feeding. The breeding season begins mid-April and their nests – flimsy platforms of sticks, twigs and stems – are built with other heron nests in colonies in wetlands and wooded swamps. 3-4 pale greenish blue eggs are laid, and incubated by both the male and female for about 23 to 24 days. Nestlings fledge 2-3 weeks after hatching.