The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is also known as the Common Egret, Large Egret, Great White Egret or Great White Heron. It is a large, common egret found in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and southern Europe. It is a member of the heron family. It is closely related to pelicans.
The African Great Egret (Ardea alba melanorhynchos or Casmerodius albus melanorhynchos) is found in the wetlands of tropical Africa.
The African Great Egret has all white feathers, and a long, thin, yellow beak, which may become darker in the breeding season. It has a fine black line from its beak to beyond its eye (like eye-liner underneath the eye). It has black legs and feet.
It grows to 100 centimetres (39 inches) tall, with a wingspan up to 170 centimetres (67 inches).
It flys slowly, with its neck retracted into an S-shape (not out-stretched). Storks, cranes, spoonbills, and ibises fly with their necks out-stretched, but egrets, herons, and bitterns fly with their heads retracted into their neck.
It is a wetland bird. It is a wading bird.
The African Great Egret feeds in shallow water on fish, frogs, insects, and small reptiles. It spears its prey with its long beak when they come near to it. It can stand still in the water, or wade slowly in the water, silently looking for its prey.
The African Great Egret lives in colonies. Pairs mate for life. Females lay 2-6 blue-green eggs in a stick nest made by the male. Both parents sit on the eggs for 23-26 days before they hatch. Both parents feed the chicks. The chicks can fly after about 6-7 weeks.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM