Click to hear the call  Click to watch the video
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Ardeidae
Genus Egretta
Species alba
Classification Gmelin, 1789
Common Name great egret
Size 85 - 100 centimeters
Wing Span 140 - 170 centimeters

Geographic Range it reproduces in Austria and Hungary, in Montenegro, on the Danube Delta, and in some zones of Ukraine and at East on the Caspian Sea. Recently it has started to nest in the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Byelorussia, France and northern Italy.
Physical Characteristics it has long paws and neck, a very lengthened beak, a slender body. The male and the female look like each other. During summer it has long white feathers on the breast and on the back, and reddish face skin. The paws are not palmate but are big in order to prevent the great egret to sink in the mud because of its weight. The paws are dark, only during reproduction season they become yellow- orange. The plumage is completely white, the eyes are yellow bordered with a green ring. The beak is black during the reproduction season, yellow with a dark point during other seasons.
Call it is generally quiet, it gives a cry when it flies up, and, when it is in a colony of herons or of other birds, it becomes noisier.
Behaviour it is a good hunter: it walks slowly in the shallow water or in the mud with its neck folded in an attack position. When it spots the prey it straightens its head to catch it immediately. When it fishes, it bends its head on one side to avoid sun reflection on the water. It moves the water with its paws to frighten its prey. Even if it rests willingly with other herons or egrets, it hunts on its own or in small groups. However it defends in a vigorous way its reproduction territory from other egrets. After the reproduction season the members of the family unit, or more numerous groups can migrate together.
Habitat it lives near soft water, where water is shallow. It can be found in lakes, marshes, lawns and wet pasture lands; it nests in the beds of reeds and among thick vegetation. During migration and in winter it settles down in the estuaries and in brackish lagoons.
Flight it flaps wings slowly, keeping its head folded back and paws outstretched backwards. The flight is powerful and regular.
Food habits it feeds mainly on fishes, amphibians, water invertebrates and reptiles.
Migration in winter it moves along north-eastern littorals of the Adriatic Sea, to the South of Greece, to Tunisia, to the Nile Delta and to the South of Iraq. In Italy it is regularly migratory, wintering and localized nesting.
Nidification it nests in colonies on the trees or among the beds of reeds. The male builds at the end of April a fragile nest made of small branches, usually situated on or near the water, filled up with softer stuff as blades of grass. It is a monogamous species. It lays from 1 to 6, usually 3, blue-pale green eggs. Both parents take care of the eggs and feed the chicks. The great egret begins to brood the first egg before the laying of the eggs is over, so the eggs open at different moments. Eggs are brooded for 25-35 days. The chicks sometimes kill each other, most of all when the food is scarce. Those who survive start to fly after 6-7 weeks, but the young stay with the adults until autumn. They reach maturity after two years and can live up to 22 years.
Status in the lagoon the individuals that winter in the lagoon probably come from central-eastern Europe. It is found in all fishfarms of Venice and Caorle lagoons, and in a few of them, as Figheri fishfarm, it has tarted to nest.

References Mangrove and wetland wildlife at Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Unione Europea - Direttiva Uccelli
I censimenti degli uccelli svernanti in Provincia di Venezia - a cura di M. Bon e G. Cherubini - Provincia di Venezia, Assessorato Caccia e Pesca. Atlante degli Uccelli Nidificanti in Provincia di Venezia - a cura di M. Bon, G. Cherubini, M. Semenzato, E. Stival - Provincia di Venezia, Assessorato Caccia e Pesca.
Web References http://www.naturia.per.sg/buloh/
Source of the photo http://www.zpok.hu/fjoo/madar_a.htm
Source of the call http://www.cserkesz.hu/~szazs/madarhang/
Source of the video http://www.hbw.com/ibc/

Serach with Google Egretta alba

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