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Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret
Scientific Classification
Genus: Egretta
Species: thula
Binomial name
Egretta thula

The Snowy Egret, Egretta thula, is a small white heron. It is the American counterpart to the very similar Old World Little Egret, which has established a foothold in the Bahamas.

Adults have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. In breeding season, adults have shaggy plumes.

Their breeding habitat is large inland wetlands and coastal wetlands from the lower Great Lakes and southwestern United States to South America. They nest in colonies, often with other waders, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

In warmer locations, some are permanent residents; northern populations migrate to Central America and the West Indies. They may wander north after the breeding season. It is an extremely rare vagrant to western Europe, although the first bird for Britain wintered in Scotland from 2001-2.

These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. They also hunt for insects stirred up by domestic animals in open fields. They eat fish, crustaceans, and insects.

Snowy Egret in winter plumage
note yellow feet

At one time, the plumes of the Snowy Egret were in great demand for decorating hats. Hunting for this purpose reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels. Now protected by law, the bird's population has rebounded.