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Nikon D60~ 55/200
Length: 22 to 26 inches Wingspan: 46 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Black legs with contrasting yellow feet, black bill, all white plumage
The elegant snowy egret was killed by the thousands in the 1800’s for its long, lacy breeding plumage, which was used for women’s hats and other clothing. It has recovered both in range and numbers since that time. Of the white egrets found in South Dakota, the Snowy Egret can be identified by its size (smaller than the Great Egret), it’s yellow feet contrasting with black legs. See the Identification Tips page for differentiating among the white Egrets and Herons in the state.
Habitat: Prefers large sloughs or marshes, sometimes edges of ponds or lakes.
Diet: Varies, but includes fish, crustaceans, insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, rodents, snails, and worms.
Behavior: Uses a variety of foraging techniques. They will often actively wade through shallow waters, chasing prey that is startled by the movement. They will also stand still in shallow water, waiting for prey to approach. Snowy Egrets will also forage on dry land, usually in search of insects.
Nesting: June and July
Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map
Song: Generally silent
Migration: Birds in the interior of the country migrate to U.S. coastal areas, Mexico, and Central America in the fall.
Similar Species: Cattle Egret, Great Egret, immature Little Blue Heron. See Identification Tips for differentiating between these species.
Conservation Status: Expanding range to the north and increasing population in recent decades. Numbers are still far below historical levels, however.
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