SCIENTIFIC NAME: Ardea alba
OTHER NAMES: Common or American egret
STATUS: Breeder. Common throughout year on Inland Coastal Plain and Gulf Coast regions. Common to fairly common in spring, summer, and fall in Tennessee Valley and Mountain regions, but uncommon to rare in winter. Low Conservation Concern.
DESCRIPTION: The great egret (Ardea alba) belongs to a large order of colonial wading birds (Order Ciconiiformes) which includes various species of herons, ibises, egrets and bitterns. The adult great egret is the largest white heron in the east. Adults range from 37 to 41 inches in height and are a snowy white except for black feet and legs, and a yellow, black tipped bill. The wingspan of adults ranges from 52 to 57 inches. During breeding season, adults may display up to 50 long plumes (aigrettes) along the back. Similar species include the snowy egret and immature little blue heron — both of which are white but are smaller and have blackish bills instead of yellow. Sexes appear virtually indistinguishable.