Great Egret, Grande Aigrette, Garza Blanca Silberreiher, Grote Zilverreiger (Casmerodius albus)

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Erik van den Ham on January 12, 2010

Great Egret

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as the Great White Egret or Common Egret or (now not in use) Great White Heron and called kōtuku in New Zealand, is a large egret. Distributed across most of the tropical and warmer temperate regions of the world, in southern Europe and Asia it is rather localized. In North America it is more widely distributed ubquitously across the sun belt states in the Unites States. It is sometimes confused with the Great White Heron in Florida, which is a white morph of the closely related Great Blue Heron (A. herodias). Note however that the name Great White Heron has occasionally been used to refer to the Great Egret.

* Description*

The Great Egret is a large bird with all-white plumage that can reach one meter in height and weigh up to 950 grams (2.1 lb). It is thus only slightly smaller than the Great Blue or Grey Heron (A. cinerea). Apart from size, the Great Egret can be distinguished from other white egrets by its yellow bill and black legs and feet, though the bill may become darker and the lower legs lighter in the breeding season. In breeding plumage, delicate ornamental feathers are borne on the back. Males and females are identical in appearance; juveniles look like non-breeding adults. The Great Egret is not normally a vocal bird; at breeding colonies, however, it often gives a loud croaking cuk cuk cuk.

Systematics and taxonomy

Like all egrets, it is a member of the heron family, Ardeidae. Traditionally classified with the storks in the Ciconiiformes, the Ardeidae now, under the International Ornithological Congress, are closer relatives of pelicans and belong in the Pelecaniformes instead. The Great Egret – unlike the typical egrets – does not belong to the genus Egretta but together with the great herons is today placed in Ardea. In the past, however, it was sometimes placed in Egretta or separated in a monotypic genus Casmerodius.


There were four subspecies in various parts of the world, which differ but little. Differences are bare part coloration in the breeding season and size; the largest A. a. modesta from Asia and Australasia is now considered a full species, the Eastern Great Egret (Ardea modesta). The remaining three subspecies are:

• Ardea alba alba from Europe

• Ardea alba egretta from Americas

• Ardea alba melanorhynchos from Africa

Ecology and status

The Great Egret is partially migratory, with northern hemisphere birds moving south from areas with cold winters. It breeds in colonies in trees close to large lakes with reed beds or other extensive wetlands. It builds a bulky stick nest. Although generally a very successful species with a large and expanding range, the Great Egret is highly endangered in New Zealand, with only one breeding site at Okarito Lagoon.[2][3] In North America, large numbers of Great Egrets were killed around the end of the 19th century so that their plumes could be used to decorate hats. Numbers have since recovered as a result of conservation measures. Its range has expanded as far north as southern Canada. However, in some parts of the southern United States, its numbers have declined due to habitat loss. Nevertheless, it adapts well to human habitation and can be readily seen near wetlands and bodies of water in urban and suburban areas. In 1953 the Great Egret in flight was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which was formed in part to prevent the killing of birds for their feathers. They are Protected in Australia under the National Parks and Wildlife Act, 1974. The Great Egret is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


The Great Egret feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, feeding mainly on fish, frogs, small mammals, and occasionally small birds and reptiles, spearing them with its long, sharp bill most of the time by standing still and allowing the prey to come within its striking distance of its bill which it uses as a spear. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim. It is a common species, usually easily seen. Though it might appear that they feed on the parasites off buffalos, they actually feed on leaf hoppers, grass hoppers and other insects which are stirred open as buffalos move about in water.

In human culture

The Great Egret is depicted on the reverse side of a 5-Brazilian Reais banknote and on the reverse side of a New Zealand $2 coin.

Grote zilverreiger

Uit Wikipedia, de vrije encyclopedie

De Grote Zilverreiger (Casmerodius albus) is een witte vogel uit de familie der reigers. De vogel is ook bekend als Egretta alba (Linnaeus, 1758) of Ardea alba.


Met zijn lengte van 85 - 100 cm is de zilverreiger zelfs nog iets groter dan de blauwe reiger. De spanwijdte is 1,45 tot 1,70 m, zijn gewicht 1-1,5 kg.


Hij leeft van vis, amfibieën, kleine zoogdieren en soms ook reptielen en vogels. Hij foerageert meestal in ondiep water, maar ook op het land. Zijn jachttechniek is eenvoudig: langdurig roerloos staan tot een prooidier in de buurt komt, of heel rustig wadend zijn prooi achtervolgen. Eenmaal dichtbij, spietst ("rijgt") hij zijn prooi aan zijn dolkvormige snavel. De grote zilverreiger nestelt in bomen. Vaak in kolonies met andere in kolonies broedende watervogels.

Verspreiding en status

De reiger komt meer voor in Italië, op de Balkan en in Turkije. De grote zilverreiger is bezig aan een opmars in Europa. De vogel broedt nu ook in Nederland, Duitsland, Slowakije , Polen, Wit-Rusland en Litouwen. Het eerste broedgeval in Nederland vond plaats in 1978 (Oostvaardersplassen) en in Litouwen in 2005. Het aantal broedparen in Nederland steeg geleidelijk tussen 1978 en 2007 naar 150 per jaar. Omdat het in het begin niet duidelijk was dat deze vogel als broedvogel zich zou handhaven, werd hij in 2004 als gevoelig op de Nederlandse rode lijst gezet. Op de internationale IUCNlijst staat hij als veilig, maar hij valt wel onder het AEWA-verdrag. Buiten de broedtijd wordt de grote zilverreiger in Nederland en België ook steeds vaker waargenomen

Bram van Broekhoven on January 13, 2010

Prachtige vogels Erik mooie foto, leuk met dat inzet stukje

Groetjes, Bram

bdeh on January 13, 2010

Schitterende opname Erik en helemaal eens met Bram. Groeten Berend

theolfa on January 13, 2010

Thank you, Erik, for that very interesting information. I think the birds are beautiful and I like the insert, too. I read that they are of the pelican family and we have a lot of those. Do egrets fly with the neck as shown in your photo, or is this one about to land? Curious, Theolfa

Erik van den Ham on January 13, 2010

Hello Theolfa always nice to hear you appreciate the added info. The way the neck is hold is typical for this bird in flight.

Best wishes, Erik

John de Crom on January 13, 2010

Zeer mooie foto Erik. Groetjes John.

annanz on January 13, 2010

Great foto Erik, well captures. Groetjes Anna

Bert Kaufmann on January 13, 2010

Supermooie opname en heel fraaie inzet.

Mooi werk, Erik!

Faintlightofdawn on January 13, 2010

Oh, lovely capture, I didn't know we had these in Europe, it is well camoflauged at this time of the year :) Fai

Erik van den Ham on January 13, 2010

Hallo John en Bert vond dit zo prachtig zo'n grote witte vogel die als hij boven het besneeuwde land vloog leek op te lossen in het wit.

It seems to be very rare in New Zealand Anna. Over here it's pretty rare too but numbers are increasing.

A bit rare still in the Netherlands Fai and a wonder I even noticed this one. It was perfectly camouflaged. Once above the white fields it seemed to dissolve completely.

Groeten, Greetings, Erik

Nico Huising on January 14, 2010

Prachtig Erik in vlucht op het punt om te gaan landen, de inzet maakt het nog mooier.

Ik ben zelf ook een tijdje op 'jacht' geweest naar deze zilverreigers, helaas bleven ze te ver weg en te stil zitten. Super dat jou het wel gelukt is.

Groetjes Nico

Erik van den Ham on January 14, 2010

Ik trof deze bij toeval. Had al wel een gewone reiger zien zitten in de sloot die in dit ijzige besneeuwde gebied nog niet bevroren was. Ik denk dat er ergens kwel water in omhoog komt. Ineens zie ik een grote witte vogel in een ooghoek komen aanvliegen. Toen hij in de buurt van de andere reiger landde vllog deze direct op en daardoor koos ook de zilverreiger weer de benen (eh vleugels).

Groeten, Erik

Isaie D on January 14, 2010

Die kom je zeker niet vaak tegen Erik. Leuk dat je hem hebt kunnen vangen.

Groetjes, Dani

©junebug on January 15, 2010

This is also a wonderful capture, Erik! I didn't know you find the beautiful birds in Europe! With their white plumage they have a perfect camouflage when flying over snow covered areas. Greetings, Anne

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 12, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by Erik van den Ham