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Two Egrets, Snowy and Great Egret I think?

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  • Two Egrets, Snowy and Great Egret I think?

    The picture on the left is from Fremont, California (Dec 2011) and the one on the right is from Redwood City, California (Feb2012)

    I think the one on the left is a Great Egret as it has yellow/orange bill, black legs and is fairly tall. I think the one on the right is a Snowy Egret as it has a black bill/yellow eye area and yellow/black legs and is somewhat small.

    Have I got my Egrets correct, or is there another type they could be? Are the more reliable identification traits to distinguish between the two or are the bill, legs and size pretty reliable?
    Bird & Wildlife Sightings Citizen Science

  • #2
    Yep, both right


    • #3
      Yes - both identifications correct, and using a pretty reliable set of characters. The bill on Great Egret normally looks a bit more yellow than in your photo (where it looks oddly pinkish).

      There are other white herons to contend with - a bit more complicated than here in the UK, but that only makes it more interesting!

      White morph Great Blue Heron is a confusion species for Great Egret but that's confined to the southeast of the US - it would be a bulkier bird overall with a heavier bill and dull yellow legs.

      Reddish Egret also has a white morph, and a few Reddish Egrets straggle to southern California in winter. They're somewhere between Snowy and Great in size but adults have a pink bill with a black tip, the legs (and feet) are dark and they lack that yellow loral skin shown by Snowies.

      Juvenile Little Blue Heron (uncommon north of San Diego?) is white and can look similar to Snowy at first glance, but the bill is pale grey-green (sometimes pink), there is no yellow loral skin, the legs are pale greenish and there are small dark tips to the primaries in flight.

      Cattle Egret is much smaller and pretty distinctive in all plumages!

      Russ Heselden


      • #4
        Great, thanks for confirmation

        Will note the other similar species id features too.
        Bird & Wildlife Sightings Citizen Science