Last updates


Legal issues

Chinese Egret
Egretta eulophotes

Pelecaniformes Order – Ardeidae Family

Length: 65-68 cm ; Wingspan : 97-114 cm ; Weight : 450-500 g

Chinese Egret lives in restricted range around Korea, and as other white egrets’ species, this bird was strongly affected by the heavy plume-trade at the end of the 19th century.

Adult male has pure white plumage all year round.
During the breeding season, the bare parts become brighter, and the ornamental feathers are longer on breast and back, and also on the nape where they are slightly shorter.
The long, straight bill is orange-yellow. The eyes are pale yellow with bluish lores. Long legs are black. Feet are greenish-yellow.
Both sexes are similar.
Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult, lacking the long feathers, and with duller bare parts. Legs are greenish with dull yellow feet.

Chinese Egret, as other Ardeidae species, is relatively silent outside of breeding season. Vocalizations are usually uttered during courtship displays and defence or territorial behaviours. We can hear at this moment low raspy croaks.

Chinese Egret lives mainly in coastal areas such as estuaries or bays, along mangroves or in tidal mudflats. It also may be found in rice-fields and fish-ponds.

Chinese Egret breeds in Korea, East China and probably East Siberia.
Non-breeding birds occur from Japan to Sumatra and East to Philippines.

Chinese Egret hunts in shallow water, walking slowly and watching for preys. It is an active feeder. It follows the tide-line where it chases the prey by running with open wings before to jab the prey with the bill.
It is usually seen alone, feeding quietly, but sometimes, a small flock of several birds may join other heron species.
Chinese Egret feeds mainly on fish, shrimps and small crustaceans.
This species is migratory, arriving at colonies in early May in Korea, and remaining till September.
It performs post-breeding movements and dispersals.

Chinese Egret performs slow, but strong flight. It is able to cover long distances during migrations or daily movements between the roosts and the feeding areas. At this moment, it uses flapping flight.

Breeding season starts in April-June, according to the colony. Chinese Egret breeds mainly on offshore islands, and may mix with other species. It leaves the colony in August-September.
During the courtship displays, egrets use their long ornamental feathers. The male raises the head and the neck, with the bill pointed upwards. It displays the long feathers and the bright colours of the bare parts. These long feathers play the most important role in courtship displays.
The nest is situated in trees, between 12 and 18 metres above the ground. It also may be built in lower trees or bushes. The nest is made with sticks, and some grass may be added sometimes.
Female lays 2 to 5 eggs, usually 3 pale-blue green eggs. Incubation lasts about one month, 30 to 35 days, mainly by female.
The chicks fledge about 36 to 40 days after hatching. They are reared by both parents.

Chinese Egret feeds mainly on extensive tidal-flats and estuaries. It feeds on fish, small crustaceans and worms, insects, small aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and small reptiles.
This species uses several typical feeding behaviours, as all the Ardeidae species.

Chinese Egret is an Endangered Species.
Its decline is due to habitat loss, and restricted range. At the end of the 19th century, the plume-trade and persecutions were heavy, and the Chinese Egret was almost extinct. Disturbances on nest-sites and at colonies with egg-collecting are other important facts.
The degradation of the habitat for industry, aquaculture and agriculture, involving pollution and destruction of the sites, is the main threat for this wonderful bird. 

Fr: Aigrette de Chine
All: Schneereiher
Esp: Garceta China
Ital: Garzetta cinese
Nd: Chinese Zilverreiger
Russe: Желтоклювая цапля
Sd: Sidenhäger

Photographs by Aurélien Audevard

Text by Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

BirdLife International (BirdLife International)

What Bird-The ultimate Bird Guide (Mitchell Waite)


Home page

Page Ardeidae Family

Summary Cards