Great Egret

Great Egret by  David J. L'Hoste
© David J. L'Hoste
Ardea alba
This large all-white heron is approximately half as large in bulk as the Great Blue Heron, but its long legs and neck give it nearly comparable stature. Its wholly black legs and feet, together with its bright yellow bill, form a combination it shares with none of the four other white herons known in Louisiana except at certain times the Cattle Egret, a bird so small and so stocky necked that it presents little real cause for confusion. The adult Snowy Egret has black legs and feet except for the yellow toes. (Remember that the first joint not in contact with the ground in a bird's hind limb is its heel; a bird stands on its toes only.) The bill of the Snowy Egret is black, and only the area called the lores is yellow. The immature Little Blue Heron has greenish yellow legs and toes, and the tips of the primary flight feathers are tinged with dusky. The Great Egret, which has in the past been called the Common or American Egret, is a permanent resident in southern Louisiana, moderately common in winter and abundant in summer. In mild winters fairly large numbers of individuals remain in the southern part of the state, but ordinarily at that season the bird is found principally in the coastal parishes. When the winter is severe, very few Great Egrets remain even there. Most of the known nesting colonies are scattered throughout the coastal parishes. --George H. Lowery, Jr., 1974, Louisiana Birds

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