(Egretta thula) is a medium-sized member of the white heron family, and is usually found in marshes, ponds, and mudflats. While feeding in shallow areas of ponds and marshes, snowy egrets use one foot to stir up the bottom, flushing prey into view. Snowy egrets will also hover, then drop to the water to catch prey in their bills.
Mature snowies typically stand about two feet high, with a wing span of over three feet. In breeding season, they have long lacy plumes on their head, neck, and back. It was these beautiful plumes which nearly caused their extinction–in the nineteenth century, hunters decimated their populations throughout Maine and the United States in order to sell the plumes to the millinery trade. The plumes were fashionable adornment for women’s hats.
The birds were eventually protected by law, but today dwindling nesting habitat is a serious problem for them.
In winter they migrate to the Gulf Coast and Florida, returning north to breed in the spring.