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Snowy Egret
Egretta thula

Snowy Egret
Garcita Blanca
Egretta thula
Length: 550mm. Sexes alike. Bill black; bare skin on lores, eyelids and iris, yellow; plumage immaculate white overall; during prenuptial and nuptial season occipital feathers develop into a long crest extending over the crown, greater scapulars develop into feathers with thin, wispy plumes that fall to the tip of the tail, where they turn outward with a swirl, these are the aigrettes. The feathers at the base
of the fore neck are also somewhat thin and wispy and cover the top part of the breast. Legs have a bare patch on the tibia, and tarsus is black, toes are yellow.
Nonbreeding adults lack the ornamental nuptial plumage and the colour of the legs has a greenish yellow tinge. Juveniles: similar to nonbreeding adults. Similar species: it differs from the Great Egret (Egretta alba) by its notably smaller size; it differs from the Cattle Egret (Ardeola ibis) by its leaner body, black bill and black feet with yellow toes, and nuptial feathers, that are white. Habitat and behaviour: found solitary or in groups; it inhabits wetlands such as ponds, marshes, streams and rivers, preferably shallow waters where it can be seen wading to seize fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic insects and their larvae, grasshoppers and amphibians that make up its diet. When prey keeps still at the bottom and thus is not easily distinguished, the Snowy Egret shuffles its feet to stir it up, and once spotted, it lunges out swiftly catching it with its bill; in deep waters it waits to strike at prey from the shore or flies low seizing prey in full flight.
In nocturnal resting grounds and in breeding sites it gathers in large flocks; colony nesters, usually with other species of herons and the White-faced Ibis (Plegadis chihi). It builds its nest in reed beds or in trees and bushes in floodplains; the nest is built of reeds and twigs. Clutch size: up to 5 light blue eggs are laid. Both sexes take turns in incubation, care and feeding of chicks. Range: widely distributed, it can be found from Southeast United States until Argentina and Chile; very abundant in the north of Argentina; occasional in Río Negro and Chubut, Patagonia. In Chubut the authors sighted and collected specimens at El Hoyo de Epuyén and Cholila.
Illustrated Handbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs Family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of photographs is forbidden without permission from the authors.
Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña