snowy egret walking on shore

60 Interesting Facts About Snowy Egrets: In-Depth Guide!

Snowy Egrets, with their elegant appearance and intriguing behaviors, captivate the imagination of bird enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

In this collection of 60 interesting facts about Snowy Egrets, we dive into the lives of these beautiful waders, uncovering their unique characteristics, migratory habits, and the challenges they face in their natural habitats.

From their stunning breeding plumage to their role in ecosystem health, join us on a journey to discover the remarkable world of Snowy Egrets.

Snowy Egret (Overview)

A Snowy Egret perched on a lily pad.
Photo by Ray Bilcliff:
IdentificationAdult Snowy Egrets have bright white plumage with tufted crests (aigrettes), a long black bill with a bright yellow patch at the base and around the eye, piercing yellow eyes, black legs, and yellow feet. Immature Snowy Egrets have light green legs.
Adult Length1.8 – 2.2 feet (22.1-26.0 inches).
Adult Weight13.1 oz (370 g).
Wingspan2.9 – 3.3 feet (35-39.5 inches).
TaxonomyKingdom: Animalia, Phylum: Chordata, Class: Aves, Order: Pelecaniformes, Family: Ardeidae, Genus: Egretta, Species: E. thula, Binomial Name: Egretta thula, Scientific Name: Egretta thula.
RangeNorth America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean islands.
MigrationSnowy Egrets are migratory birds, flying to warmer climates during winter months when temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-6 degrees Celsius). They migrate to places like Florida and South America.
HabitatWetlands, ponds, streams, rivers, and estuaries.
DietPrimarily small fish (minnows, catfish), frogs, insects (dragonflies, beetles), crabs, and various invertebrates and crustaceans (crayfish, snails, squid).
Global Extent of OccurrenceApproximately 19,845,650.949 square miles (51,400,000 km2).
PopulationNorth America Population: Estimated 143,000 individuals.
Conservation StatusListed as Least Concern (Population Increasing).
LifespanIn the Wild: 17 years of age; In Captivity: 22 years of age.
Breeding PeriodMarch – April.
Incubation Duration24–25 days.
Nestling Duration20–24 days.
Clutch Size2–6 eggs.
Egg ColorLight Blue.
Nesting HabitsSnowy Egrets nest in both saltwater and fresh habitats. They construct shallow nests made of sticks and lined with small branches. Nests are typically built on the ground, in shrubs, or in trees up to 30 feet high. Both adults take turns incubating the eggs. Nestlings leave the nest in 19 to 25 days and start hopping from branch to branch, eventually flying at around 30 days.

Interesting Facts About Snowy Egrets

  • Snowy Egrets can cruise at a horizontal speed of around 25 miles per hour or (40 kph).
  • Snowy Egret predators include: Owls, hawks, snakes, raccoons, and alligators.
  • 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. 
  • Snowy Egrets are 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.
  • 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 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.
A Snowy Egret perched on a railing.
Photo by Glenda Thompson:
  • In 1886, Egret plumes were valued at twice the price of gold at $302 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.
  • Snowy Egrets are migratory birds, meaning they move seasonally to find suitable habitats and food sources. During the colder winter months, they migrate south to regions with milder climates, and in the spring, they head north to breeding grounds. This migration allows them to avoid harsh winter conditions and take advantage of seasonal food availability.
  • Snowy Egrets build their nests in various locations, primarily in trees or on platforms constructed from sticks. These nests are strategically placed near water sources like lakes, rivers, or coastal areas, where the birds can easily find food for themselves and their chicks.
  • Both male and female Snowy Egrets actively participate in parental care. They take turns incubating their eggs, ensuring that they remain at the right temperature for successful hatching. After the chicks hatch, both parents continue to provide protection, warmth, and food until the young birds are ready to fledge.
  • Snowy Egrets are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 in North America. This legal protection prohibits hunting, capturing, or harming these birds and their eggs without proper permits, contributing to their conservation and preservation.
  • During their winter migration, Snowy Egrets often form large flocks. This behavior offers protection from predators and enhances their foraging efficiency. These flocks can be seen traveling together and foraging in unison.
  • Snowy Egrets are commonly found in salt marsh habitats and near coasts. They prefer wetland areas with ample access to water, which provides them with a diverse range of prey species, including fish, crustaceans, and insects.


  • Vince S

    Meet Vince, the passionate founder and author of Learn Bird Watching, boasting 30 years of birding experience. With an unwavering mission to empower fellow bird enthusiasts, Vince shares invaluable wisdom and guidance. As a dedicated moderator and contributor to Quora's Bird Watchers' Club, he actively engages with the birding community, where his insightful answers have garnered over 440,000 views and over 2,670 upvotes. Whether you're a budding birder or a seasoned avian aficionado, his wealth of knowledge is at your service.

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