Egretta Thula - Two Snowy Egrets With Fish In Their Beaks | Hampton Bays, New York

© Sophie W. Smith

Joined October 2012

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Artist's Description

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Subclass: Neornithes
Infraclass: Neognathae
Superorder: Neoaves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Egretta
Species: E. thula
Binomial name
Egretta thula
(Molina, 1782)
Snowy Egrets nest in colonies on thick vegetation in isolated places—such as barrier islands, dredge-spoil islands, salt marsh islands, swamps, and marshes. They often change location from year to year. During the breeding season Snowy Egrets feed in estuaries, saltmarshes, tidal channels, shallow bays, and mangroves. They winter in mangroves, saltwater lagoons, freshwater swamps, grassy ponds, and temporary pools, and forage on beaches, shallow reefs, and wet fields.

The Snowy Egret eats mostly aquatic animals, including fish, frogs, worms, crustaceans, and insects. It often uses its bright yellow feet to paddle in the water or probe in the mud, rounding up prey before striking with its bill. Snowy Egrets feed while standing, walking, running, or hopping, and they may vibrate their bills, sway their heads, or flick their wings as part of prey gathering. They even forage while hovering. Snowy Egrets forage in saltmarsh pools, tidal channels, tidal flats, freshwater marshes, swamps, ocean inlets, and lake edges, usually preferring brackish or marine habitats with shallow water. Other foraging water birds often assemble around them to form mixed-species foraging groups.

Snowy Egrets are permanent residents in most of South America and Central America. In the United States, they are often permanent residents along the Atlantic coast north to Virginia Beach, VA, along the Gulf Coast, and along the Pacific lowlands from central California southward. During the breeding season, Snowy Egrets wander north along the Atlantic flyway between the lower Chesapeake Bay and coastal Rhode Island, and up the Pacific Coast to northern California. Snowy Egrets also breed in the lower Mississippi Valley westward into eastern Texas. Birds banded in United States have been recovered as far away as Panama and Trinidad. Read more

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