Eastern Great Egret

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Ardea modesta


Size 83-100cm.

Tall, graceful, extremely long-necked white bird with long black legs and feet. Bill and facial skin are yellow with a dark line extending from the base of the bill to behind the eye. In flight legs extend well beyond the tail and the neck has an abrupt kink. The wing beats are slow and deliberate. During breeding the bill turns mostly black and the facial skin becomes green/blue around the eyes, legs turn reddish. Long lacy plumes are grown across the lower back.

Feeding Habits

Usually feed alone, standing motionless or slowly stalking fish, frogs and insects in shallow water.


Nest in colonies with other waterbirds, on a large rough platform of sticks in tall trees standing in or near water.

Traditional Owner Values

Manbarra Language Name : Idalia meaning Food resources are plentiful


When there are egrets it means that seafood is plentiful, especially julguile and coucal shells.

Places to Look

Fresh water wetlands, rivers and mudflats.


Many breeding colonies have been lost as a result of clearing and filling of swamps.


NQ Dry Tropics gratefully acknowledges the contribution of Birdlife Townsville (formerly the Townsville Region Bird Observers Club) to the information on this page.

© Birdlife Townsville
© Birdlife Townsville
© Birdlife Townsville

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