Great Egret in a snowy marsh, Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, UtahGreat Egret in a snowy marsh – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 320, +1.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Four years ago this month I was delighted when I spotted and photographed a Great Egret flying into the snow covered marsh in front of me at Farmington Bay WMA. I was used to seeing Great Egrets in Florida because they were abundant there but here in Utah I see them far less often and even more rarely in the winter when there is snow on the ground. I was thrilled to have this big, white wading bird where I could take photos of it in what was on that day a winter wonderland.

eBird Great Egret bar chart for Utah

eBird Great Egret bar chart for Utah

Great Egrets can be found in Utah year round but they are not as commonly seen as many of our other wading birds here. It isn’t uncommon for me to see Black-crowned Night Herons and Great Blue Herons in the snow but this was only my second sighting of a Great Egret during the winter. The first time I saw one I took a few photos of the egret but it was not in good light and the bird was nearly hidden so to have one out in the open marsh was a reason for me to celebrate. And I did.

Life is good.


Great Egret Facts and information:

Ardea alba

  • Great Egrets are tall, long-legged wading birds with all white plumage, yellow bills and black legs.
  • In some areas Great Egrets are year round residents and in others they are medium distance migrants.
  • In the mid nineteenth century Great Egrets were nearly hunted to extinction because of their plumes. At the time they were used in ladies hats. When hunting them became illegal they slowly bounced back and are no longer in danger of extinction.
  • Great Egrets can be found in ponds, lakes, marshes, swamps, freshwater, brackish water and saltwater environments.
  • Great Egrets eat fish, amphibians, crustaceans, eggs, birds, small mammals, insects and reptiles.
  • Great Egrets lay 1 to 6 eggs which hatch in 23 to 26 days. Both sexes incubate and they are monogamous, colonial nesters.
  • A group of egrets can be called a “heronry”, “skewer” and “wedge” of egrets.
  • Great Egrets can live to be more than 22 years old.