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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous

I Spy with my little eye …….A Snowy Egret

I suppose many of us have seen various types of bird life as we journey to and from the airport on the way to our villa or holiday accommodation and even on our way to the Theme Parks, other Orlando tourist venues or just out for a shopping trip.

One of the most common birds to be seen in Florida is the SNOWY EGRET a wading bird of the heron family with spectacular white plumage.

You can easily identify it, it has black legs, bright yellow feet and a long thin neck, black bill and yellow markings around the eyes that turn red during the breeding season. The large yellow feet are used very effectively to stir up the water to flush out food from the mud.

The Snowy Egret is a pretty bird weighing about 14 ounces, height about 24 inches and a wingspan of 38 inches. Both male and female look similar.

In the past their feathers were used in hat making, this resulted in a decline in population numbers as many birds were hunted and killed for the long lace like feathers and plumes to supply the millinery trade

Snowy Egrets can be seen in freshwater marshes and inland waters and salt water coastal estuaries foraging for tastey morsals such as small fish , shrimps, snakes, snails and even small lizards and frogs. It also eats aquatic vegitation.

It is an all year round resident in Florida and some Snowy Egrets migrate from other parts of the United States of America to Florida in winter. Their breeding season is from January through to August

Nesting in colonies, a pair will build a nesting platform of twigs and sticks in bushes or trees no more than 30 feet above ground or over water. Usually they lay 3 to 5 green-blue eggs that hatch in approximately 20 days and the young are ready to leave the nest after 25 days. The first to hatch is usually the dominant chick so the rest of the chicks tend to grow at a different rate.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have designated the Snowy Egret as a species of special concern as Snowy Egrets are still in decline as a breeding bird. This has been attributed to the loss of habitat particularly wetlands that have been lost to development and road improvements.

In captivity Snowy Egrets may live to be 16 years old.

So next time you are driving along the highways of Florida look out for that little white bird with long legs and yellow eyes…. . it’s sure to be a Snowy Egret.

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Page added on: 2 February 2008
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