The elegant snowy egret
was killed by the thousands in the 1800's for its long, lacy breeding plumage,
which was used for women's hats and other clothing. It has recovered both
in range and numbers since that time. Of the white egrets found in South
Dakota, the Snowy Egret can be identified by its size (smaller than the Great
Egret), it's yellow feet contrasting with black legs. See the Identification
Tips page for differentiating among the white Egrets and Herons in the
Habitat: Prefers large sloughs or
marshes, sometimes edges of ponds or lakes.
Diet: Varies, but includes fish,
crustaceans, insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, rodents, snails, and worms.
Behavior: Uses a variety of foraging techniques.
They will often actively wade through shallow waters, chasing prey that is
startled by the movement. They will also stand still in shallow water,
waiting for prey to approach. Snowy Egrets will also forage on
dry land, usually in search of insects.
Nesting: June and July. Breeds in colonies,
typically mixed colonies with other wading bird species. The nest is a
platform of sticks built in a tree or tall shrub. The female usually lays
3 or 4 eggs, and both parents help to incubate them. When the eggs hatch,
both parents help to feed the young. The young fledge after about 4 weeks.
Song: Generally silent
Migration: Birds in the interior of the
country migrate to U.S. coastal areas, Mexico, and Central America in the fall.
Similar Species: Cattle Egret,
Egret, immature Little Blue Heron.
See Identification Tips
differentiating between these species. They are also extremely similar to
the Little Egret, an Old World counterpart
to the Snowy Egret that is a rare vagrant to North America.
Conservation Status: Snowy Egreats are expanding range to the north and increasing population
in recent decades. Despite recent populatiosn increases, overall numbers are still far below historical levels.
However, populations are not in danger, and the
IUCN lists the Snowy
Egret as a species of "Least Concern".
Whatbird.com - Snowy Egret
Photo Information: June 23rd, 2005 - Near
Chincoteague, Virginia - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Snowy Egret photos.