Pelecaniformes Order - Ardeidae Family
Length: 56-66 cm ; Wingspan: 90-105 cm ; Weight: 370 g
LONGEVITY : up to 22 ans
Snowy Egret is a medium-sized egret, with a delicate silhouette. The male is slightly larger than female.
Its plumage is entirely white. Bill is long, black and thin, with bright yellow base, from eye to eye on upper part of the face. Legs are long, fine and black, feet are bright yellow. Eyes are yellow.
Adults in breeding plumage have long silky feathers on chest and crown. Feet change in colour, turning from bright yellow to orange.
Immature have rear legs yellowish instead black.
Snowy Egret usually prefers shallow waters of creeks or stretches of the sea for feeding. Salt ponds, tidal areas, shallow bays and mangroves are its preferred habitats in North America. Most common areas are between coasts and islands, because of the constant availability of food resources.
It winters in Caribbean, where it finds suitable habitat, salt lagoons, freshwater ponds, grassy pools, beaches, shallow rocky areas, rice fields and wet meadows. Throughout Central America, it prefers lowlands close to freshwaters, lakes and large mouths. In South America, it lives in coastal mangroves, mudflats and marshes rather than in higher areas. However, we can find it regularly up to 4000 metres of elevation in the Andes of Peru.
Snowy Egret living in North America migrates southwards in winter, and performs post-breeding dispersions.
Snowy Egret uses the flight to escape terrestrial predators. Its attitude in flight is that of all egrets and herons, with retracted neck, straight head, and legs extended behind.
Female lays 3 to 6 pale greenish blue eggs. Incubation lasts about 24 days, shared by both parents. Chicks have their first plumage two weeks after hatching. Adults fed them bringing food to the nest. Young are continuously fed during ten days. During the first five days, they are fed by regurgitation into the nest. Sometimes, one of the parents places its bill in the bill of a young and regurgitates. Youngest is fed before the others. Then, parents spend half of time out of the nest, but if weather is bad, young are brooded as long as necessary.
Parents remove the egg shells away from the nest, and keep it clean by ejecting debris outside of the nest. Young people reach their sexual maturity at one or two years.
DIET: Snowy Egret feeds on earth worms, aquatic and terrestrial insects, crabs, shrimps, crayfish, shellfish, fish, frogs, lizards and snakes. It usually consumes 75% of fish and 25% of crustaceans.
Chemical pollution and degradation of habitat by drainage of wetlands are two important threats for this species.
Fortunately, Snowy Egret North American populations are now reconstituted, thanks to species protection measures.
Fr : Aigrette neigeuse
All : Schmuckreiher
Esp : Garceta Nívea
Ital: Garzetta nivea
Nd: Amerikaanse Kleine Zilverreiger
Russe: Цапля снежная
Photographs by Alfredo Colón
Puerto Rico Wildlife
Photographs by Tom Grey
Tom Grey's Bird Pictures
Text by Nicole Bouglouan
HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105
THE HANDBOOK OF BIRD IDENTIFICATION FOR EUROPE AND THE WESTERN PALEARCTIC by Mark Beaman, Steve Madge - C.Helm - ISBN: 0713639601
A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF MEXICO AND NORTHERN CENTRAL AMERICA by Steve N. G. Howell, Sophie Webb - Oxford University Press - ISBN: 0198540124
A GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF COLOMBIA by Steven L. Hilty and William L. Brown
Princeton University Press – ISBN 069108372X