Skip to Content

8 Quick Facts About Egrets

Last Reviewed and Updated on February 4, 2023

Egrets are a group of large, long-legged, and long-necked birds that belong to the heron family. Their striking white plumage and elegant looks have made them popular with bird enthusiasts. Read on and learn some interesting facts about egrets.

1. Egrets are white herons

Egrets aren’t a biologically distinct group from herons. The term egret is used to describe species of herons (who are generally long-legged wading birds) that have mostly white or buff feathers.

2. They fly with their necks retracted

Egrets resemble storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills; however, egrets (and herons) are different in flight. Egrets have their necks retracted when they fly, while other mentioned birds have their necks extended straight.

3. They can make an S shape with their necks

Egrets and herons can make an S shape with their necks. The shape of their bone necks is modified. They have 20 or 21 neck bones.

4. They spear their prey

Egrets commonly hunt by waiting in shallow waters for the prey to come within range. When the prey is close, the egret impales its prey with its sharp bill (like using a spear).

They may also walk around slowly, snatching up their prey as they go.

5. There are 12 heron species that are classified as egrets

The species are;

  • Great egret
  • Great blue heron
  • Intermediate egret
  • Cattle egret
  • Little egret
  • Snowy egret
  • Reddish egret
  • Slaty egret
  • Chinese egret
  • Black egret
  • Eastern reef egret
  • Western reef egret

6. Great blue heron is the largest egret

With its head-to-tail length of 36 to 54 in / 91 to 137 cm, a wingspan of 66 to 79 in / 167 to 201 cm, and a height of 45 to 54 in / 115–138 cm, the great blue heron is the largest egret and one of the largest herons.

7. They nest in colonies

They usually breed in colonies with nests in trees close to water bodies.

8. Egrets are found in all continents

They can be found worldwide, although they typically avoid the coldest regions, arid deserts, and high mountains.

Sharing is caring!