Birding in the Amazon & America? Watch for Great and Snowy Egrets

March 15, 2013
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An amazing fact in regards to the great egret, also known as the common egret: Not only is this a common bird in the Peruvian Amazon, but it is also a common resident over much of the United States.  Often, however, on ecotours, guests seem to be quite enamored by the 3 ½ foot tall birds not realizing that it’s the same bird they may have seen in their own home state!

The great egret is a beautiful white-colored egret with a large dagger-like yellow beak and jet black legs. Both the legs and the bill separate this species from another all-white egret, the snowy egret. The snowy egret is smaller, has a black beak and black legs with bright yellow feet. Both species may be found together and when observed side by side, the size difference is very apparent. Although, at first glance, Amazon cruise guests have been known to exclaim, “Look, a baby egret!” IE’s knowledgeable naturalists are always happy to point out the differences between the two egrets.

During low water times in the upper Amazon Basin, fish are often trapped in the receding water, providing a wonderful smorgasbord of fish and amphibians upon which these birds gorge themselves.  As excursion boats glide along some of the black water tributaries such as in the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve, hundreds if not thousands of egrets, herons and cormorants may fly ahead of the boat creating a spectacular display of color and life. 
 

Naturalist Greg Greer is a favorite among IE travelers, and has gained a reputation for his friendliness and good humor, along with his incomparable knowledge of natural history, photos and articles have been widely published in books and magazines, including Georgia Outdoor News, Bird Watcher’s Digest, Alabama Outdoor News, Riversedge and Southern Wildlife.