A Special Guest at Sandalfoot

A couple of weeks ago I posted this photo of an Egret aka Great White Heron on our facebook fanpage. We often get visitors and guests from all over the world that come to enjoy the beautiful scenery and share some time with us. On this particular day I happened to have my camera handy and decided to share a photo of this special guest. It got me thinking… maybe I can blog about this beautiful bird and share some interesting information with our readers. Here at Sandalfoot Condominium on Sanibel Island there is so much to enjoy out and around our Beachfront property!

We’d like to invite all of our guests to email us their favorite vacation photos so we can share them here on our blog and on our facebook fanpage! Below is some interesting information on our beautiful feathered friend!

Great Egret
Casmerodius albus

Also known as a White Heron or Great White Heron

Family: ARDEIDAE
Group Name: Herons, Bitterns, Egrets
Species Order: Ciconiiformes
Spanish Name: Garza blanca, Garza grande, Garza real
French Name: Grande aigrette
Watchlist Status: Green

Introduction 

The elegant Great Egret is a tall, white wading bird found on every continent except Antarctica. The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the nation’s oldest conservation organizations, which was first established to protect birds from feather hunters.

Appearance Description 

Tall and slender, the Great Egret is pure white in color, with a yellow, spear-like bill, a long neck, and long black legs. Measuring three feet in height and 1.9 pounds, with a four-foot wingspan, it is one of the largest members of the heron family, second in size only to the Great Blue Heron. During breeding season, the birds grow spectacular plumes, which are raised like fans during courtship displays. There is no pronounced difference between the sexes.

Range Distribution

A cosmopolitan species, the Great Egret is broadly distributed throughout tropical and temperate wetlands around the globe. In the Americas, it breeds from Canada to Argentina and Chile. Wintering populations can be found as far north as waters remain ice-free in North America. Generally this ranges from Oregon south along the West Coast, and along Mexico down to Panama, as well as throughout much of the southern United States, and up the Eastern Seaboard, sometimes into New York and Massachusetts during warmer years.

Habitat

Great Egrets inhabit all kinds of wetlands, both inland and along the coast, including marshes, river margins, lakeshores, coastal swamps, lagoons, mudflats, and manmade impoundments and drainage ditches. They can also be found in more terrestrial habitats, such as agricultural fields. Nesting takes place mostly in waterside trees or shrubs, often on islands.

Feeding

Strictly carnivorous, Great Egrets stalk their prey by either standing still or walking slowly in shallow water and marshland. Their diet consists mainly of fish, but also includes aquatic invertebrates (particularly crustaceans), insects, amphibians, reptiles, other birds, and small mammals. Great Egrets feed individually or in loose flocks, sometimes with other herons, cormorants, and ibises. They sometimes forage in open fields.

Reproduction

At the beginning of the breeding season, Great Egrets develop long showy plumes, called aigrettes, which trail from their backs, and are prominently displayed during courtship. Their bills become orange-yellow and the skin around their eyes changes from yellow to lime-green. Seasonally monogamous, the birds typically nest in large colonies, often with other species such as Great Blue Herons or Snowy Egrets. A Great Egret pair produces a single brood each year, starting when the birds are two or three years of age. In temperate zones they breed in spring or summer, depending on when food is most abundant; in the tropics, they can breed at any time of the year. Their platform nests, made of twigs, are constructed in treetops or woody vegetation. Females lay one to six pale blue-green eggs, which both sexes incubate for about three weeks. Both parents care for the chicks, which can fly at six to seven weeks of age.

Migration

In North America, Great Egrets are migratory in their northern and interior breeding areas, but they are apparently influenced by temperature fluctuations. In milder winters, the birds may stay on their breeding grounds if the waters where they feed remain open. Spring migration occurs between late February and May, with birds occupying their summering grounds until late August through November, and sometimes even into December. They migrate individually or in small, V-shaped or wavy-lined flocks of less than 25, often following routes along coastlines and major rivers.

Sandalfoot Condominium – Every vacation rental condominium offers a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico, is completely and comfortably appointed with everything you’ll need to feel right at home. All of our 1 and 2-Bedroom rental condominiums are non-smoking. Relax and spend lazy days sunning or shelling on one of the best shelling beaches of the world; take a dip in our pool or perhaps play a friendly game tennis or shuffleboard; bike the island trails, fish right from the beach, tee-off at a near-by golf course or go birding at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge – the possibilities are endless! With so much to offer, Sandalfoot Condominium is the best value for your vacation rental on Sanibel Island.

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Call 1-800-725-2250 to book your vacation now!

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