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Wildlife Spotlight: Great Egrets

PictureGreat Egret

Great egrets are members of the heron family. With white plumage, sharp yellow bills and legs made for wading, they make their homes in warmer climates close to water. They are often found spearing fish in marshy areas, but are also powerful fliers, achieving speeds of up to 25 miles an hour in flight.

The great egret is considered a wildlife conservation success story. During the 19th century, large numbers of egrets were killed for the showy feathers they grow during mating season. The damage this caused to the great egret population has been reversed over time due to strong conservation efforts, including those mounted by the Audubon society, which was originally established to combat the practice of poaching birds for their feathers. Fittingly, the Audubon Society chose the great egret to be its symbol. Today, the great egret is no longer endangered, and can be found in many different parts of the world. We are lucky to have strong numbers of great egrets who call the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks home.

You can celebrate the good health of the great egret population by joining birdwatching programs offered through the Irvine Ranch Conservancy, or by joining any program that takes you out on the land. Great egrets are just one of many bird species who share the land in Orange County’s backyard.