Great white egret – a bird familiar to all from childhood. These birds stand gracefully on one leg (and even easily manage to sleep in this awkward position!), live in the swamp, feeding on fish, frogs and other small representatives of marsh fauna.
That’s about all most people know about the bird. Really great egret – a very interesting bird. Birds not only live in the wild, but live successfully in captivity – in a zoo.
To watch them endlessly. These large white birds, despite its height, is very beautiful and graceful.
Great white Heron lives in countries with warm temperate and tropical climates:
- In the southern and South-Eastern Europe;
- In South-East Asia;
- In Canada and the United States of America;
- In tropical countries of South America;
- In South Africa;
- In Australia;
- In New Zealand.
- Dwells on the banks of various water bodies of both salt and freshwater. This bird can often be found on the coast and in swampy forest areas. Most often, these birds choose to inhabit places such as:
- The lowlands of marshland;
- River Bank;
- The mouth of the rivers;
- Lakes with fresh or salt water;
- Tropical mangroves;
- Of agricultural land;
- Open area with agricultural plants;
- Plantation of rice (in Southeast Asia);
- The storm drains.
The greater part of his life, this bird spends in the water. But, when it comes time to earn their living, the bird moves on the land or comes from the depth in shallow water, as fish and small animals on which it feeds great white egret, live near the shore.
Heron – vocal, noticeable bird, the height of the largest individuals is little more than a meter. The wingspan can reach five feet. Adults of both sexes weigh about a kilogram. Size males are usually larger than the size of females.
The typical external signs of this beautiful bird:
- Pure white, without shades of gray, the color of the feathers;
- Direct bill is outstanding the length of yellow color, with the help of bird feed herself;
- Long legs dark gray;
- Long grey fingers;
- Long neck curved in the shape of Latin letter “S”.
The spine of the animal is arranged in such a way that it can easily pull and pull neck. She often uses this skill while hunting. The tail is white, she is very short, in the form of a wedge. The winter birds grow long feathers of white color, which are located on the side and tail. When it’s mating season, those feathers are reduced in size, the beak changes its yellow color to orange and the lores turn green. Unlike other species of herons, kicking it with a fluffy tuft at the crown, head of a great white Heron is absolutely smooth. Visually the males and females do not differ from each other, with the exception of size.
Great white egret is a bird of prey, and the lion’s share of its diet in this regard is animal food with high protein content. Basically, the bird eats small animals living on the banks of rivers (seas) and in shallow water near the shore. The unique structure of the spine allows it to quickly rotate the neck in different directions, and easy to catch game off guard. About this and also about the characteristic pose of the great white Heron is mentioned in a children’s poem:
“Come on, zapuska-angler, show us your catch! Show me the river standing on one leg!”.
The main components of the daily diet:
- Frogs and toads;
- Snakes (poisonous and non-hazardous to humans);
- Small sea and river fish;
- Marine plankton;
- Small river rodents (young beaver, otter, muskrat);
- Sea and river bugs, cockroaches;
In short, this beauty eats everything that moves and lives not far from the shore. She prefers live food, as the bird triggered the hunting instinct, when she sees a moving prey.
They are not fussy and eat what is caught in hunting. Experts saythat stand on one leg – one of the most effective methods of hunting the great white Heron. When the bird stands still, she manages to catch more game than during slow movements.
The great egret is characterized by a greater smoothness and a kind of grace. Birds come out to hunt in the afternoon or evening. They hunt, usually in small groups, but can earn one and alone. The day birds are awake and I sleep. Heron – aggressive and pugnacious bird. Birds often fight over tidbits, hurt those who are smaller in size, and fearlessly enter the fray with his equals.
Despite the fact that in marshy districts, as a rule, there is no shortage of different kinds of animals, competition for food among the herons are not uncommon. The strongest wins. Birds fly smoothly, developing an average speed of thirty to fifty kilometers per hour. It all depends on the age and physical condition of the bird. If there is no food, the Heron can fly to fish to a distance of twenty miles. In flight great egret bends its head in the form of Latin letter “S”.
When it comes time for mating, each Heron fiercely defends its territory. Herons are not monogamous, they change partners each season. Some colonies of herons reside all year round on their territory, and some colonies with the onset of cold weather moves to warmer places nearby. There are herons, which, like a migratory bird, with the onset of late fall and early winter fly pretty far. It all depends on the climate in which resides a specific population of great white herons, as well as the physical state of the birds, their age. But still the majority of herons don’t fly far, and foraged within its territory.
Mating and reproduction
When the Heron marks exactly two years, she enters into puberty. It comes time to start a family. Usually great white egret “married” just for one season. Very rarely, but still happens when the next season is former “wife” back to each other. They nest in large groups. During the year the female herons incubate eggs only once. In countries with temperate climates, mating season usually occurs in late spring and early summer, when there are no problems with obtaining food. In tropical climates herons can mate in the winter and fall.
Mating great egrets are amazingly beautiful. These high, rather clumsy bird just transformed. They are graceful, beautiful crane, and the males fight fiercely for the attention of any females. At this time the herons have a special so-called “marriage” feathers. The skin around the eye becomes greenish, the beak becomes orange from yellow, the tip of the beak darkens. When the female has deposited her eggs, beak, and remains orange until the, until the “marriage” period is over.
To attract the attention of females, male great egret takes the typical ritual dance. When a couple is created, it begins building the nest for breeding. Usually herons build nests from a variety of natural materials. In the course are boards, branches, twigs, debris. To warm the Chicks in the nest, herons put down and feathers. When herons gather building material for their “home”, they often borrow everything required from its neighbors, it is a common practice.
The female lays eggs and incubates them. Soon the baby birds are born. In the beginning the Chicks are naked, helpless, but grow quickly. Among the Chicks developed fierce competition: elder Chicks take food from the younger, and even can throw out their younger relatives from the nest. Perhaps it’s an instinct of struggle for survival. In this regard, not all Chicks survive. Usually survive only the most senior and powerful. About two months later, fledglings learn to fly, but they still remain dependent upon the parents. Caring parents continue to care for their offspring as long as the birds turns three or four months.
Features of captivity
Great white egrets can easily adapt to different environmental conditions. They are unpretentious in food, undemanding to the environment. The main thing for them was free access to any body of water and a large amount of food of animal origin, rich in protein. They are often held in zoos. They are easily adapted to captivity, almost never get sick, and life expectancy does not change significantly.
The main features of the content in captive great egrets:
- A bird kept in captivity, have to eat right. It is necessary to provide food balanced diet, including various vitamin and mineral supplements;
- It is preferable to contain the birds in small groups, as in natural conditions they rarely live alone;
- While baby-sitting the female must provide complete rest;
- When you see Chicks, you must make sure that they do not destroy each other in fights over food.
- Because of its beauty, grace, elegant white plumage great white egret can be found in almost any zoo. As a rule,birds are kept in small cages with free access to the artificial pond. In pond run fish, like the fact that birds feed on in the wild. Feeding is done several times a day, at the same time, on a fixed diet. In addition, it produces own food by hunting on the shore. When it’s mating season, the birds should provide the materials to build nests, but you also need to provide a comfortable temperature sufficient for successful hatching of Chicks. Subject to all these terms and conditions, the herons will have a longer life span, and they will feel as comfortable as in natural conditions.
The great white Heron is a truly unique bird. It is notable for its beauty of plumage, peculiar grace, interesting behavior. This beauty plays the role of a river or swamp “medic”, reducing the excess quantity of noxious insects and reptiles. Currently the population of these birds declined significantly due to the massive draining of wetlands and the drying up of natural water bodies. In this regard, these unique create a need for protection and security. To see a great white egret in natural conditions are rare.