Bird of the week – Eastern Great Egret Ardea modesta

The Eastern Great Egret is a water bird. It is usually seen alone, wading in shallow water looking for food. Its call is a low-pitched croak.

What the Eastern Great Egret looks like

The Eastern Great Egret is 70-90 cm in length. Its neck is longer than its body and it has a dark line extending from the base of its beak to behind its eye. It has white feathers. In the non-breeding season, the Eastern Great Egret has a yellow beak, yellow facial skin, yellow eyes and grey-black legs and feet. In the breeding season, it has a black beak, green facial skin, red eyes and brown-black legs and feet. It also has long white plumes on its lower back.

Where the Eastern Great Egret lives

The Eastern Great Egret lives in most parts of Australia, except the driest parts. It is found around lakes, swamps, rivers and dams.

What the Eastern Great Egret eats

The Eastern Great Egret mostly eats fishes. It also eats insects, crayfish, lizards and frogs. It stands still and watches for prey or walks slowly in shallow water. It spears fishes with its pointed beak.

How the Eastern Great Egret breeds

Eastern Great Egrets form pairs during the breeding season and nest in colonies.

The adults breed from spring to summer in the south and in autumn in the north. The male snaps his beak and stretches his neck to attract a female. They mate.

The female lays two to six eggs on a platform of sticks in a tree near water. Both parents sit on the eggs to keep them warm.

The chicks hatch after about three and a half weeks. Both parents feed them.

The chicks fly after about six weeks. They grow into breeding adults.

Herons, ibises and spoonbills


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