Great egret (Ardea alba)
Egrets are birds from the genera Egretta or Ardea, which include herons as well, both staple sights on a Everglades Holiday Park. The distinction between herons and egrets is vague, depending more on appearance than biology. Many types of egret can be spotted during Everglades airboat tours, including the snowy, cattle, reddish, and the common or great egret.
Egrets are found in temperate and marshy regions, and are known for nesting in colonies, perfect conditions for spotting from an Everglades boat. These colonies commonly inhabit marshes, lakes, humid forests and other wetland environments. They build large nests in trees and bushes or on the ground which can often be spotted at Everglades Holiday Park.
Size & Appearance
Most egrets have white or buff colored plumage and grow lengthy distinctive, fine plumes for mating seasons. They are long-legged wading birds with long necks, slender bodies and dagger like bills. Their tails are so short that they appear to be without any. They often hold their long necks in an “S” shape, with their head pulled between the shoulders – even in flight, keep an eye out for this on Everglades tours.
As wading birds, most egrets’ diets consist of small fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, mammals and crustaceans in shallow waters. Group airboat tours and private airboat tours have been known to see them having a meal at times!
- Before their legal protection, these birds were brought to the brink of extinction by 19th century hunters after their valuable plumage for use in women’s hats. Thanks to regulations put in place they can still be spotted on your Everglades excursion.
- The great egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in America. And for visitors taking Miami airboat tours it’s no wonder why they would choose such a beautiful animal.
- The oldest known egret was 22 years, 10 months old.
- The name “egret” was derived from the French word “aigrette” – meaning “silver heron” or “brush.”