Bird of the Week: Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Smaller and more delicate than the Great Egret, to which it bears a passing resemblance, the Snowy Egret is easily distinguished by its black bill and bright yellow feet (their name in Spanish, garceta de pie oro, means “gold-footed egret”). They use their feet to stir up small fish and crustaceans, which they then strike with their bills. Though small and plain-looking outside of breeding season, these birds develop dramatic and beautiful breeding plumage on their backs and crests. These feathers were once worth more, ounce for ounce, than gold, and led to massive depopulation as the birds were hunted nearly to extinction. Fortunately, reforms in the 20th Century led to a significant rebound in Snowy Egret populations, and they are now quite common across the eastern half of the state.

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.