Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
GREAT EGRET Casmerodius albus L39" (99cm)
The great egret is a large white heron similar in size and shape to the great blue heron. Its primary breeding range extends from the southeastern United States to the Great Lakes. A small number of individuals often breed north of this range. In North Dakota, the great egret has been known to nest in the Minnewauken Flats region of Devils Lake. After the breeding season, the great egret will disperse north from its breeding range and arrive in North Dakota in mid-August. This post-breeding season dispersal is said to be caused by food shortages on its nesting grounds. The great egret nests either singly or in colonies. Its nest is usually 20-40 feet above ground in medium-sized trees, but sometimes it may be built in bulrushes or cattails. The female lays 3-4 pale blue-green eggs with an incubation period lasting 24 days. The great egret inhabits both freshwater and saltwater marshes where it feeds on aquatic fauna such as fish, frogs, and snakes.