snowy egret walking on shore

59 Interesting Facts About Snowy Egrets (Photos, ID, & Info)

There are many species of egrets in the world, but few are as iconic and recognizable as the snowy egret. These elegant birds can be found throughout North America from April to September. 

In this article, we will explore the 59 Interesting Facts About Snowy Egrets with Photos, ID, & Info. ​​​​​​​


  • Identification: Adult snowy egrets have a bright white plumage, with tufted crests (aigrettes), which are long white plumes of hair growing from the crown to the back of the neck, a long black bill with a bright yellow patch at the base of the bill, and around the eye. They also have piercing yellow eyes, black legs, and yellow feet. Immature snowy egrets have light green legs.
  • Length: 1.8 – 2.2 feet (22.1-26.0 in.).
  • Weight:  13.1 oz (370 g).
  • Wingspan:  2.9 – 3.3 feet (35-39.5 in.).
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Ardeidae
  • Genus: Egretta
  • Species: E. thula
  • Binomial Name: Egretta thula
  • Scientific Name: Egretta thula
  • Range: North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean islands. 
  • Migration:  They are migratory birds that fly south to warmer climates during winter months when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). In the winter time, they migrate to warmer climates such as Florida, and South America.
  • Habitat: Snowy egrets live in wetlands, ponds, streams, rivers and estuaries.
  • Diet: The diet of this bird consists mostly of small fish like minnows or catfish; frogs; insects like dragonflies and beetles; crabs ; and a variety of invertebrates, and crustaceans like crayfish, snails, and squid. 
  • Global extent of occurrence: 19845650.949 square miles (51,400,000 km2).
  • North America Population: est. 143,000 individuals.
  • Conservation Status: Listed as Least Concern (Population Increasing).
  • Lifespan: In the Wild: 17 years of age. – In Captivity: 22 years of age.
  • Breeding Period: March – April.
  • Incubation Duration: 24-25 days.
  • Nestling Duration: 20-24 days.
  • Clutch Size: 2-6 eggs. 
  • Number of Broods: 1 brood per year.
  • Egg Color: Light Blue.
  • Nesting Habits: Snowy Egrets usually nest in both saltwater and fresh habitats. They create nests that are shallow, and made of sticks, and lined with small branches, and are usually built on the ground, shrubs, or in trees up to 30 feet high. During this time both adults take turns incubating the eggs. The nestlings will begin to climb out of the nest in 19 to 25 days, and start hopping around from branch to branch, and begin to fly at 30 days.

Interesting Facts About Snowy Egrets

  • The Snowy Egret was first classified by Chilean naturalist Juan Ignacio Molina in 1782 as “Egretta thula”.
  • The oldest Snowy Egret ever recorded was 17 years, 7 months old. This bird was banded in 1970, in Colorado and was later found in 1988 in Mexico.
  • Snowy Egrets can cruise at a horizontal speed of around 25 miles per hour or (40 kph).
  • The Snowy Egret is much smaller than the great egret. Snowy Egrets measure only 22-26″ inches in length, while the Great Egret measures between 31-41″ inches in length.
  • The Snowy Egret is a small white member of the heron family.
  • Snowy egrets are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals.
  • Snowy Egret predators include: Owls, hawks, snakes, raccoons, and alligators.
  • The birds are primarily scavengers, eating anything that they find dead or dying in the water. It has been known to eat small dead fish, amphibians, and reptiles as prey occasionally.
  • When breeding season comes around for these birds, males will relentlessly fight each other for females and their territory on lakes and ponds across the U.S.
  • Snowy egrets have been known to travel up to 500 miles from their breeding grounds back to their favorite nesting sites.
  • It is not uncommon to see a Snowy Egret’s bright yellow feet as they dig for food.
  • The Snowy Egret is named after the color of its plumage.
  • Snowy Egrets can live as long as 17 years in the wild, and up to 22 years in captivity. 
  • The Snowy Egret is a diurnal bird, that hunts during the daylight hours.
  • It is a very aggressive bird and will attack anything it feels is a threat to itself or its nest.
  • Snowy egrets are monogamous. The males and females pair up for life, in a practice called “pair bonding.” Pair bonded birds spend most of their time together and usually mate for life. 
  • Due to their aggression during breeding season. They have been known to attack people that run past their nests, as well as people that approach them at a close range.
  • These birds are one of the most abundant throughout Florida, southern Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
  • The Snowy Egret’s diet is not limited to fish. They have many foods they eat throughout the year, especially during the summer months when their diet is more diverse.
  • The Snowy Egret’s habitat consists of wetlands. It has a large range, which covers over 50 million kilometers in the United States and Canada, but it is protected almost exclusively in Florida, because it has been disappearing at an alarming rate due to development.
  • When the breeding season arrives, the males will perform mating dances to attract a female snow egret. These dances can be quite dramatic and seem almost comical at times.
  • The snowy egret only remains in the south for approximately 6 months out of the year, before heading up north in late summer for breeding season.
  • When these birds come together during their winter migration, they tend to travel in large flocks, especially while crossing bodies of water larger than a lake or a river. They feed together and swim together until they reach their destination.
  • The Snowy Egret is a rare vagrant to Australia, Europe, Iceland, and Scotland.
  • The Snowy Egret is often seen in salt marsh habitats, breeding colonies are often near coasts. They are rarely seen inland.
  • Snowy Egrets are very social birds and usually travel in groups of 10 or more during non-breeding season.
  • Snowy Egret nests are built in trees, but they usually nest on platforms of sticks placed in trees or shrubs. The average clutch size is 2–4 eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 24-25 days until hatching. Both parents also aggressively defend the nest site during this time.
  • Snowy Egrets are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 which prohibits hunting them or their eggs without a permit. The hunting of Snowy Egrets is banned throughout North America.
  • Snowy Egrets are known to be especially vulnerable to oil spills, and at risk of exposure to several types of pollutants including lead, mercury (and its compounds), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
  • They were hunted and shot by plume hunters between the years of 1880 to 1910 for their feathers, which were used to decorate women’s hats, and clothing. This led to near extinction of the species in the United States. 
  • In 1886, Egret plumes were valued at twice the price of gold at just over $30 per ounce. This value was due to the immense demand for these feathers in the craze of Victorian fashion trends during this time period. With no other material being able to take its place, people paid handsomely for these feathers because they wanted them so badly. These valuable feathers continued to be in high demand until around 1915 when their popularity began to decline with the advent of new materials and fabrications.

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