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  • Writer's pictureTerry Wise


The Great Egret is a tall, long-legged wading bird. This majestic white bird is commonly found along the shorelines of ponds and wetlands. It has a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet and a height of around 3 feet. The flight of the Great Egret is described as regal, elegant, and graceful, with its large wingspan and retractable S-shaped neck distinguishing it from other birds.


Similar to the Great Blue Heron, the Great Egret hunts by wading slowly through the water, patiently waiting for prey. They walk the shoreline of Carillon Stonegate Pond with their neck extended at a 45-degree angle and wings held close. With their long, dagger-like bills, Great Egrets are very adept hunters. They feed on fish, frogs, crustaceans, snakes, and other small aquatic animals. The Great Egret requires specific habitats for foraging and nesting, typically found in unpolluted wetlands near marshes, ponds, rivers, lakes, flooded fields, and mudflats.


During the breeding season in April, the Great Egret builds nests near the top of trees, up to 50 feet off the ground. In fact, there is a rookery several miles from our pond. The nests are large, measuring up to three feet wide and one foot deep. The female lays eggs that hatch in approximately three weeks, and the young birds fledge in an additional three weeks.


At Carillon Stonegate Pond, you can find Great Egrets along the shorelines of the ponds, and occasionally roosting in the trees above the western pond. While they are mostly silent, they may make various croaking calls, especially when alarmed or disturbed.


Although the Great Egret was once included on the Illinois Endangered Species List in 1977, it has since recovered and was removed from the list in the late 1990s. Today, the Great Egret thrives and has a lifespan of 15 years.


If you're interested in observing these beautiful birds and other wildlife, I recommend taking walks along the paths around or between the Carillon Stonegate ponds. You can also sit on your deck if you have a home on the ponds to observe the wildlife. Enjoy your hike and happy birdwatching!

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