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Snowy Egret

Egretta thula

Family:

Ardeidae, the heron and egret family.

Conservation Status:

Least Concern IUCN.

Distribution:

Warm temperate and tropical North and South America.

Habitat:

Shallow water inlets, salt-marsh pools, tidal channels, shallow bays and mangroves.

Factoid:

They serve as a biological indicator of ecosystem health and habitat quality. Populations appear to be declining along the Atlantic coast due to pollution and competition with other bird species.

They are medium-sized, all-white wading birds with a “slight” appearance in comparison to other wading birds. Their beaks are black with a bright yellow, fleshy base, which extends back to the lores and eyes, black legs and bright yellow feet. During the breeding, season adults have prominent plumes on shoulders, necks and heads.

Their broad diet consists of freshwater and marine fish, earthworms, annelid worms, aquatic and terrestrial insects, crabs, shrimp, crayfish, snails, frogs, toads, lizards and snakes.
Known predators of their eggs and young include raccoons, great horned and barred owls, crows, American alligators, rat snakes and the common black-hawk.

The most common courtship display is the “stretch” display in which males pump their bodies up and down with beaks pointed towards the sky, calling to attract females. They congregate in large established colonies, often with a mix of other egret species. They build platform nests usually about 10 feet off the ground but may nest on the ground when conditions warrant. Females lay 3-5 greenish blue eggs which take about a month to incubate. The young soon develop the distinctive white shaggy head and tail plumage of adults.

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