Location: Glencoe Swale, Hillsboro, Oregon Size: 38″ Pure white feathers, orange bill, black legs and feet.
I watched as the Great Egret favored the southwest shore of an old farm pond. It stalked shallow wetlands near flowing waters that exit the pond into a recently beaver-built flood plain.
I’m not positive about the menu, but it’s a good guess that small fish or frogs were the catch of the day.
Great Egrets are notorious for slowly pursuing small fish to spear with long, sharp bills or to simply stand still and wait for prey to approach.
According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) statistics, Great Egret populations in the United States are on the LC Least Concern list. This is remarkable because 95% of the Great Egrets in North America were killed in the late nineteenth-early twentieth century for their plumes to adorn lady’s hats. Since plume-hunting was banned around 1910, Great Egret populations have recovered. However, in the twenty-first century this species is vulnerable to habitat loss and degradation, as well as threats like non-point source water contamination.
Once air-borne, the Great Egret can fly 25 mph with slow steady wing beats of just two per second.
Non-migrators hang around parts of western Oregon during the winter.
For more information:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology- All about Birds: Great Egret