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Great egret (Ardea alba)

The great egret is an elegant heron adorned in white, magnificent plumage and is nearly the size
of the great blue heron. Inhabiting six of the seven continents, this long-legged and long-necked marvel is at home near most bodies of water, salt or fresh. The great egret
serves as the “spokesbird” for the Audubon Society’s emblem.
It was the first critically endangered bird whose nearly tragic end was prevented by the society’s conservation efforts through legislation. Like all babies, the one pictured here is still totally dependent on its parents for food and protection. For a sense of size and scale, egret nests are 3 to 4 feet across and 12 inches deep. Baby egrets are nest-bound until four weeks old when they gain the strength and balance to begin exploring, on foot, the branches supporting its nest roughly 50 to 100 feet off the ground. Talk about a tightrope act! In another two to three weeks, this bouncing baby will test its fledgling wings and become a newly-minted aviator under the parents’ watchful eye. It takes a closely knit community to raise all the baby egrets that will, in about two years’ time, keep the colony going strong in adulthood.

Jan Baumgartner
Author: Jan Baumgartner

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