Ardea alba   Linnaeus,  1758 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyright: pbase

Size: 91-96 cm.

Voice: Usually silent, occasionally utters low kraak.

Habits: Diurnal, unsocial, generally solitary though roots and feeds communally, breeds in mixed heronries of storks, darters and cormorants, etc. Generally breeds from May to November.

Adult: Sexes alike, a snow white bird with yellow beak and black legs. Breeding birds with black beak, edge of gape, naked lores and orbital skin behind eyes bright green, three sets of long, transparent, white plumes growing from scapulars extending beyond tail. Juvenile: Pure white.

Breeding: The timing of the breeding season varies geographically although temperate breeders tend to nest in the spring and summer (e.g. April to July) and tropical breeders nest in the part of the rain cycle when food becomes maximally available (this may be during the rains or in the dry season). Nest- Nests are a flimsy platform constructed of sticks, twigs, and stems built as high as possible. The eggs are a pale greenish blue, and are incubated by both the male and female for about 23 to 24 days.

Lifespan/Longevity: Great egrets have a lifespan of about 15 years in the wild (22 in captivity).

Synonym (s)
Egretta alba (Linnaeus, 1758)
Casmerodius albus (Linnaeus, 1758)

Common Name (s)
• Great Egret (English)
• Large Egret (English)
• Bada bagala (Hindi)
• Prasch jesht bagla (Sanskrit)
• Perumunti (Malayalam)
• Periya vellai kokku (Tamil)
• Thorla bagla (Marathi)
• Moto safed baglo (Gujrati)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Ecosystem balance
(As predators great egrets affect the populations of their prey.)
Importance:  Commercial
(Prior to the 20th century there was great demand for the lacey plumage of great egrets for women's hats and other fashionable garments.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(The species is threatened by wetland habitat degradation and loss for example through drainage, grazing, clearing, burning, increased salinity, groundwater extraction and invasion by exotic plants. Breeding colonies may be declining due to egg and chick gathering from colonies by local peoples and the species previously suffered from intense persecution for the plume trade.)

Habitat:  Estuarine, Muddy, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Frogs, snakes, crayfish, fish, mice, crickets, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, and many other insects
Predator:  eggs and nestlings are exposed to numerous predators including crows (family Corvidae), vultures (family Cathartidae), and raccoons (Procyon lotor, which are the most threatening).
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA (Record: 2003, 2008)
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kachchh INDIA
• Maharashtra, Navi Mumbai INDIA
• Goa, Carambolim INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Point Calimere (Lat: 10.3) (Long: 79.85) INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Kumar, A; Sati, JP; Tak, PC and Alfred, JRB (2005) Handbook on Indian wetland birds and their conservation Zoological Survey of India, Dehra Dun 468 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Available at -
  • (1997) Coastal marine environment of Gujarat 178pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Shanbag A.B, Walia R and Borges S.D (2001) Impact of Konkan railway project on the avifauna of Carambolim lake in Goa Zoos' print journal 16(6) 503-508 Available at -
  • Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -
  • Pawar PP (2011) Species diversity of birds in mangroves of Uran (Raigad), Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, West coast of India Journal of Experimental Sciences 2(10) 73-77 Available at -
  • Lal Mohan RS (1986) Birds and Bird Catchers Of Ramanathapuram Coast Available at -
  • Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent ENVIS Newsletter: Avian Ecology and Inland Wetland 55pp Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web Available at -
  • Avibase- the world database Available at -
  • PBase Available at -

Page last updated on:2012-09-06

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