The Great Egret (Ardea alba) is slightly smaller than the Great Blue Heron yet has an equally impressive wingspan. Great Egrets hunt by wading through wetlands, standing very still, and jabbing fish with their bills. On dry land they hunt gophers by watching burrows, waiting for a gopher to poke its head above ground, then spearing it.
During the 19th century when the birds were hunted for their feathers, which were used in ladies’ hats, the Great Egret was almost wiped out. Through the 20th century, after the trade in feathers was outlawed, the Great Egret enjoyed a steady recovery. Its nesting in San Diego County was first discovered in 1988 and has continued to increase.
To learn more about the Great Egret, visit the online San Diego County Bird Atlas or check out the book from your local library.
PHOTO CREDIT: Neil Burton, Used under license from Shutterstock.com