The Egret

The Egret

The egret is a wading bird that belongs to the heron family. There are 4 subspecies that can be found in temperate and tropical areas around the world. The birds inhabit ponds, lakes, swamps, streams, areas near the rivers, and islands. The snowy white feathers of the egrets were used for decoration of ladies’ hats in the past, and the increased popularity of these hats led to a drastic decline in the number of egrets in the wild. Luckily this practice was banned at the end of the 19th century, and the population of the egrets is large and stable today.

The egret is a large bird, and can reach 41 inches in length, 3.3 feet in height, and anywhere from 1.5 to 3.3 pounds in weight. They are covered in white plumage, and have a long, yellow bill with a black tip. They have long black legs and feet. Their wingspan is around 55 inches, and produce 2 wing beats per second and flies at the speed of 25 miles per hour. The neck is S-shaped during flight.

The egret stands in the water, motionless and waits for the prey to come close enough, then catches the prey using the long, sharp bill. Their diet consists of fish, snakes, frogs, crustaceans, lizards, small mammals and birds, and insects. Occasionally they will steal food from other birds, and are known to use a crocodile’s back as a floating device. They hunt either solitary or in small flocks.

The egrets produce one brood per year, and the mating season takes place during the spring and summer months in the temperate regions, or throughout the year in tropical areas. They nest alone or in colonies of up to 1,000 pairs of birds. The males starts to build the nest using long sticks and twigs, and the female completes it. Typically, the female lays 4 – 6 eggs that hatch after 23 to 27 days. Stronger chicks often kill the weakest birds in the nest to ensure enough food for themselves, and the young egrets are ready to leave the nest at the age of 21 to 25 days.

The natural enemies of the egrets are raccoons, owls, and hawks. They attack young birds in the nest. The egret can survive 15 years in the wild and 22 years in captivity.
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Elephants & Egrets

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