Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)

Snowy Egret

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta thula | [authority] Molina, 1782 | [UK] Snowy Egret | [FR] Aigrette neigeuse | [DE] Schmuckreiher | [ES] Gerceta Nivea | [NL] Amerikaanse Kleine Zilverreige


Monotypic species


Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the Little Egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas. Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Kolleru, Andhra Pradesh, India.These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage; a number of species are either white in all plumages, have a white morph (e.g. Reddish Egret), or have a white juvenile plumage (Little Blue Heron). The breeding habitat of Egretta herons is marshy wetlands in warm countries. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

Physical charateristics

Note the “golden slippers.” A rather small white heron, with a slender black bill, black legs, and yellow feet.Recurved plumes
on the back during breeding season. A yellow loral spot is before the eye (red when the bird is breeding). When feeding, this heron rushes about, shuffling its feet to stir up food. Young birds may show yellowish or greenish on much of rear side of legs.

Listen to the sound of Snowy Egret

[audio: Egret.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 90 cm wingspan max.: 100 cm
size min.: 48 cm size max.: 68 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 19 days
fledging min.: 28 days fledging max.: 32 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America, Latin America : widespread


Marshes, swamps, ponds, shores. Widespread in many types of aquatic habitats, including fresh and salt wa
ter; in coastal areas, may seek sheltered bays. Inland, favors extensive marshes and other large wetlands. Sometimes forages in dry fields. Nests in colonies in trees, shrubs, mangroves, sometimes on or near ground in marsh.


Breeds in colonies, often or usually mixed with other species of wading birds. Male selects nest site and displays there to ward off rivals and attract a mate. Displays include pointing bill straight up, raising all plumes, and pumping head up and down wh
ile calling; variant of this sometimes given in short flight. Also flies in circles around nest site; flies high and then tumbles down.
Nest: Site is in tree or shrub, usually 5 -10′ up, sometimes on ground or higher in tree. Nest (built by both sexes) is a platform of sticks.
Clutch 3 -5, sometimes 2 -6. Pale blue-green. Incubation is by both sexes, 20 -24 days.
Young: Both parents feed young. Last young to hatch may starve. Young may clamber out of nest after 20 -25 days, probably unable to fly before 30 days. 1 brood per year.

Feeding habits

Includes fish, insects, crustaceans. Diet is varied, includes fish, crabs, crayfish, frogs, snakes, insects, snails, worms, lizards, rodents.
Behavior: Often forages actively, walking or running in shallow water; also stands still and waits for prey to approach. May stir
bottom sediments with feet to startle prey into motion. Sometimes hovers and then drops to water. Also may feed in open fields, sometimes following cattle to catch insects flushed by the animals.

Video Snowy Egret


copyright: D. DesJardin


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Snowy Egret status Least Concern


Northern United States to Argentina. Breeds locally within shaded area. Migration: After breeding season, may wander well north. Withdraws in winter from n
orthern breeding areas; birds banded in United States recovered in Panama, Trinidad. On Pacific Coast, some may winter slightly north of breeding range.

Distribution map

Snowy Egret distribution range map


Title Water depth selection during foraging and efficiency in prey capture
by the egrets Casmerodius albus and Egretta thula (Aves, Ardeidae)
in an urban lagoon in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil
Author(s): Aline B. Moreno, Adriano R. Lagos & Maria Alice S. Alves
Abstract: This study aimed to evaluate the water depth selec..[more]..
Source: Iheringia, S

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