Everglades Bird Profile: The Great Egret

great egretThe Great Egret is one of the largest wading birds that lives in the Everglades. It is over four feet tall and its wingspan is more than 50 inches in length.

This bird has long black legs, black feet, and a stout yellow bill. It can often be mistaken for the Great White Heron, but the heron has a heavier bill and pale legs.

The egret flies slow with its neck retracted, which is different from many other similar-looking birds.

This bird stalks its prey by slowly walking or standing still and can catch a fish in a flash with its quick bill reflex. They eat fish, amphibians, reptiles, other birds, small mammals, and invertebrates. They look for food in marshes, swamps, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, tide flats, canals, and flooded fields.

The Great Egret usually is found alone but gathers with others during mating season in shrubs and trees over water.

At the end of the 19th century, many Great Egrets were being killed in the Everglades and in North America for their plumes, which were used for decorative hats. In the late 1800s naturalist John James Audubon visited the Everglades, and public outrage grew to put a stop to the mass commercial hunting of wading birds for the plume. The Great Egret became the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. More than 300 Great Egrets had to be used get just one kilogram of feathers.

The numbers of this bird have grown but haven’t recovered due to habitat loss.


Want a chance to see the Great Egret? You might on an airboat tour!

To book an airboat tour with Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours, call 800-368-0065  or visit our Everglades Airboat Tours page. Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours are open seven days a week 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. If paying by cash, adults cost $40 (plus tax) and children 12 and under cost $20 (plus tax. If paying by credit card, adults cost $45 (plus tax) and children cost $25 (plus tax).