Field identification tips: A large heron, nearly the same size as the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias). The all-white plumage of the Great Egret (Ardea alba) by itself is not a distinguishing feature because several other members of the heron family share this trait. A. alba's distinguishing features are black legs and feet, a yellow bill and in breeding season, green lores. Bear in mind that mud may obscure the true color of the bird's feet.
Typical range: A. alba is nearly cirumpolar in temperate and tropical regions. This species can be found on every continent except Antarctica. In North America A. alba breeds as far north as southern Canada. Northern populations migrate southward for the cooler months while along the gulf coast and in mild climates of western states, as well as the Caribbean Islands, Central and South America, the bird is a year-round resident.
Habitat: A. alba is typically associated with lakes, ponds, marshes, and estuaries where the bird hunts for fish and crustaceans. Other foods include pretty much anything it can swallow including reptiles, small mammals and small birds. It can also be found hunting in fields and along highways. Nests are in trees in large rookeries near water.