Florida Egret


Great egret (Ardea alba)

Egrets are birds from the genera Egretta or Ardea, which include herons as well, both staple sights at Everglades Holiday Park. The distinction between herons and egrets is vague, depending more on appearance than biology. Many types of egret can be spotted during your Everglades voyage, including the snowy, cattle, reddish, and common or great egret.

Different Types of Egrets in Florida

Egrets and herons rule supreme in Florida’s diverse ecosystems where water and land mix. Florida’s waterways are a theater of feathers, long legs, and sharp eyes, from the Great Egrets in their majestic grandeur to the more elusive Chinese Egrets.

Great egrets

Meet the Great Egrets: majestic, white, and impossible to overlook. They’re the classic image of a water bird, known for their long legs and striking bright yellow bill.

Great Blue Heron

The Great Blue Heron—not an egret, but often mistaken as one. They’re a larger bird with a bold blue-gray plumage and a distinctive “S” curve neck.

Little egrets

The Little Egrets! Smaller but poised, they don a full wardrobe of white feathers and black legs, striding gracefully through shallow waters.

Snowy egret

The charm of Snowy Egrets! With their fluffy white plumage and bright yellow feet, snowy egrets are like the dancers of the wetlands.

Cattle egrets

Ever seen a bird following a cow? That’s a Cattle Egret for you! They’re adaptable and clever, often seen foraging near livestock.

Reddish egrets

Reddish Egrets bring drama and flair. With their rusty-red plumage, they perform a dance to shadow and catch their prey.

Pacific reef heron

An exotic visitor, the Pacific Reef Heron comes in two colors—either all dark or all white. They prefer coastal regions and are a rare sight in Florida.

Intermediate egret

The Intermediate Egret is like a blend between the Great and Little Egret, sporting a medium size and a more subdued elegance.

Western reef heron

Spotting a Western Reef Heron is a birder’s delight. Usually found in the Old World, they occasionally make an appearance in Florida, boasting gray or white plumage.

Slaty egret

A true rarity in Florida, the Slaty Egret is generally dark with a contrasting yellow throat. Keep your binoculars ready!

Chinese egrets

The Chinese Egrets are the elusive wanderers, seldom seen but always a marvel. With a slightly upturned bill and a shy demeanor, they’re the poets of the egret world.

Recognizing Egrets and Other Wading Birds

If you’re keen on identifying the various wading birds that grace Florida’s waterways, it’s essential to note some shared characteristics. These features serve as clues, helping you distinguish, for instance, a Great Egret from a Great Blue Heron.

Characteristics of Wading Birds

In general, because of their distinctive characteristics, wading birds like egrets, herons, and other species are simple to identify. They have lengthy legs for wading in shallow water and unique bills suited for their particular diet. In both freshwater and saltwater habitats, they have honed their distinctive behavioral features, like staying still and abruptly lunging to catch unaware prey.

Yellow Feet and Black Bills

A Snowy Egret is most likely the bird you see if you notice it has yellow feet. These birds increase their hunting success by stirring up the water with their colorful feet and luring in little fish. Similar to this, birds like the Little Blue Heron have black beaks that are designed for catching a variety of small fish and mammals. These adaptations let these birds survive in a variety of settings, from Florida’s wetlands to various saltwater and freshwater marshes. They are not merely ornamental characteristics.

When observing these birds, these clues—yellow feet, black bills, long legs—act as your field guide, helping you understand and appreciate the marvelous complexity of wading birds in Florida.

Habitat of Egrets

Egrets are found in temperate and marshy regions and are known for nesting in colonies, perfect conditions for spotting from an Everglades boat. These colonies commonly inhabit marshes, lakes, humid forests, and other wetland environments. They build large nests in trees and bushes or on the ground, which can often be spotted at Everglades Holiday Park.


Most egrets have white or buff-colored plumage and grow lengthy, distinctive, fine plumes for mating season. They are long-legged, wading birds with long necks, slender bodies, and dagger-like bills. Their tails are so short that they appear to be without any. They often hold their long necks in an “S” shape, with their head pulled between the shoulders – even in flight, keep an eye out for this on Everglades tours.

Diet and Hunting Techniques of Egrets

As wading birds, most egrets’ diets consist of small fish, amphibians, reptiles, insects, mammals, and crustaceans in shallow waters. Group airboat tours and private Everglades tours have been known to see them having a meal at times!

The Historical Importance of Egrets and Herons

Egrets and the Fashion Industry

In the early 20th century, egret feathers were highly sought-after in the fashion industry. This demand led to a drastic decline in egret populations.

Florida’s Wetlands: The Perfect Home for Egrets

Due to its abundance of shallow water areas, small fish, and other aquatic life, Florida’s wetlands provide egrets with an ecosystem unlike any other.

Migration Patterns of Egrets and Herons

When and Why Do They Migrate?

Migration for egrets and herons is essentially fueled by the quest for the best nesting locations and the availability of food that varies with the seasons.


  • Before their legal protection, these birds were brought to the brink of extinction by 19th-century hunters after their valuable plumage for use in women’s hats. Thanks to regulations put in place, they can still be spotted on your Everglades excursion.
  • The great egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in America. And for visitors taking Miami airboat tours, it’s no wonder why they would choose such a beautiful animal.
  • The oldest known egret was 22 years, 10 months old.
  • The name “egret” was derived from the French word “aigrette” – meaning “silver heron” or “brush.”

FAQs Regarding Egret

What are the primary differences between egrets and herons?

Egrets typically have white plumage, while herons come in various colors. Egrets often have yellow feet, and herons usually have longer, more robust bills.

Why do some egrets have bright yellow feet?

Yellow feet in egrets like the Snowy Egret act as lures for small fish, making hunting in shallow water more effective.

How do egrets adapt to both saltwater and freshwater habitats?

Egrets adapt to different water types through specialized glands that filter out salt, allowing them to thrive in saltwater and freshwater marshes.

What’s the significance of the “S” shape neck posture in egrets during flight?

The “S” shape helps reduce air resistance during flight, making their movements more energy-efficient.

Are there any specific bird-watching tours in Florida focusing on egrets and herons?

Yes, Florida offers specialized bird-watching tours that highlight native-wading birds like egrets and herons, particularly in the Everglades.

How do egrets and herons coexist with larger predators in the Everglades?

Their long legs and keen senses allow egrets and herons to spot predators early, giving them a chance to fly away before danger strikes.

Skip to toolbar