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snowy egret

OLogy Series
animal
card
202

snowy egret

OLogy Series
animal

The snowy egret is a beautiful sight. An adult egret is distinguished by its dark slender beak, long black legs, and yellow feet. Perhaps the most notable feature on a snowy egret are the showy plumes, or feathers, that grow on its head and back. In fact, the great demand for these beautiful plumes almost led to the birds' extinction. Today, the snowy egret is protected from hunters under the Endangered Species Act.

The snowy egret was almost hunted to extinction because its plumes were used to:

make feather dusters

decorate women's hats

make writing pens

Are you right?

Correct!

At the end of the 19th century, snowy egret plumes were fashionable on women's hats. Fortunately, laws were enacted to prohibit the hunting of snowy egrets, and their populations slowly recovered.

The snowy egret is considered a "colonial" bird because it:

is such a majestic bird

nests in colonies

was the official bird of the original 13 American colonies

Are you right?

Correct!

The snowy egret is considered a "colonial" bird because it nests in colonies, or large groups. In fact, the snowy egret will nest with groups of other species such as herons and scarlet ibises.

The snowy egret catches prey with its yellow feet.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

The snowy egret catches prey with its bill. However, in shallow waters it may use a foot to stir up the water in order to reveal hiding prey.

An area of the snowy egret's face will change color during breeding season.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fact

The spot below the snowy egret's eyes is typically yellow, but turns red during breeding season.

snowy egret
Scientific name: Egretta thula
Size: about 20 to 27 inches tall
Weight: up to 13 ounces
Habitat: marshes, swamps, and coastal areas along the east coast of North and South America
Diet: fish, shrimp, crabs, amphibians, and insects
Characteristics: white body, black bill, yellow feet

Image credits: courtesy of AMNH Department of Library Services.