The Assateague
Naturalist

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Picture

Picture

Picture

The Great Egret (Casmerodius albus)
Distinguished from the snowy egret by its greater size (wingspan can be over 50 inches), its yellow bill, and black legs and feet, the great egret can be spotted on Assateague from spring through fall, often along the main road at the edge of the water in a marsh.

While great egrets spend the winter from South Carolina southward, they can be found as far north as Massachusetts in the summer. Their nests, made up of reeds and sticks, are often high up in trees and may harbor as many as five or six eggs. In the breeding season, both males and females exhibit long back plumes that were once valued in the feather trade.

Egrets are excellent fishermen who stand motionless in the water waiting for fish, although snakes, frogs, or some insects may be added to their diet.

The great egret in the two lower photos is enjoying a crab dinner near Toms Cove (map) as "laughing gulls" (Larus atricilla) shoot past hoping to catch some leftovers.

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