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Great Egret | Egretta alba

The Great Egret is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Ardeidae bird family group which includes birds such as Egrets, Herons, Bitterns.

The description for the Great Egret (Latin name Egretta alba) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Egretta alba can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 66 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 585. You will find a picture of the Great Egret on page 592.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as Great White Egret in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Great Egret between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Great Egret is known in Afrikaans as Grootwitreier.

The Great Egret has a height of 95 cms and weighs around 1100 gms. The head is coloured white while the bill is coloured black. The Egretta alba has a white coloured throat, grey legs and a white coloured back. The eyes are orange.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is white

Eyes are orange

Bill is black

Legs are grey

Throat is white

Back is white

This bird has long legs ? ie legs the length of which are out of proportion to the bird's body size. This can be a useful identification guide (eg with the Lapwings).

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators.

The Great Egret is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

You can see the Great Egret bird on coastal regions and on the sea shore where the bird will be foraging with other birds

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Great Egret is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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