Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The great egret, Ardea alba, occurs on all continents but Antarctica, with most of its range occupying low elevations in the tropics and subtropics. In North America, this bird breeds primarily in the southeastern United States, the west coast of the United States, and Mexico, though scattered breeders have been found during spring months throughout western North America as far north as Idaho. In Utah, the great egret is considered to be a rare permanent resident, though breeding activities have yet to be verified. The interpretation of sightings is somewhat complicated by this bird's tendency to disperse widely following the spring breeding season, often appearing far from nesting grounds.

Throughout its range, the great egret is found in wetlands, where its prey includes insects, crustaceans, and aquatic vertebrates, such as frogs and small fishes. Nests are typically near wetlands, high in trees.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.