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  • Writer's pictureTerry Wise

Great Egret Fishing on Carillon Stonegate Pond

We had this beautiful white Great Egret visit Carillon Stonegate Pond. It spent most of the day here. Occasionally basking in the sun on the fallen tree jutting into the pond. Or, here in the video, prowling the shoreline for lunch!

The Great Egret has all white feathers. Their bills are yellowish-orange. And they have black legs. Think smaller version of Sesame Street's "Big Bird" except all white!

The Great Egret averages 3 feet in height. They weigh in at approximately 2 pounds. And their wingspan is 5 to 6 feet.

The flight of the Great Egret has been described as regal, elegant and graceful. How would you describe it? As these birds fly, you will notice the large wingspan that can be 5 to 6 feet. In flight, they retract their S-shaped neck – this distinguishes Great Egrets from Storks and Cranes which fly with their necks fully extended.

Great Egrets hunt by wading slowly through the shore of ponds and wetlands. They will stand immobile patiently awaiting a fish – its motionless legs looking like branches to its prey. They will jab their sharp bill and snatch up the fish or prey – usually headfirst and swallow it. They feed on fish, frogs, crustaceans, snakes and other small aquatic animals.

Great Egrets may migrate in the Midwest as far north as southern Wisconsin and Minnesota. And during the winter, they move south. They migrate by day in small flocks. Great Egrets may reside permanently in the southern U.S. - not migrating at all. In late summer and fall, Great Egrets are found across the U.S.

The Great Egret will build nests upwards of 100 feet off the ground near the top of a tree and near a wetland. The nest is large – up to three (3) feet wide and one (1) foot deep. The breeding season typically occurs in April. The female lays eggs which will hatch in approximately three (3) weeks. The young birds will fledge in about an additional three (3) weeks. There is an egret rookery approximately three miles north of Carillon Stonegate Pond.

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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