The Great Egret, next to the White Ibis, may be one of the most commonly observed wading birds here on Sanibel and Captiva. The tall, graceful Great Egret is a wader of the quiet waters all around Southwest Florida throughout the entire year. It is certainly smaller than the Great Blue Heron with bright white feathers throughout, a yellow bill and black legs. The Great Egret was nearly wiped out in the late 1800's due to the plume trade, but this bird made a great comeback after early Conservationists put a stop to the slaughter and protected it's colonies. The Great Egret became the symbol of the National Audubon Society after its successful resurgence.

It's diet consists of mostly fish but is also often seen walking along hedgerows and atop trees and shrubs where it can graze on frogs, anoles, grasshoppers and small snakes. During the breeding season, as is the Great Egret photographed here, long feathery plumes grow from it's back, called aigrettes, which they hold up during courtship displays . In addition, a patch of skin on it's face turns neon green during the breeding season.

Enjoy this beautiful wading bird which you are sure to see on any trip around our islands.