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Scientific name : Ardea alba
Family : Ardeidae
L de 94 à 104 cm, E de 131 à 145 cm
The Great Egret is a wading bird living near fresh water. It is the largest herons and egrets in Europe. It has almost disappeared, decimated by hunters who sold the long feathers to decorate the bridal hats of the ladies of the late nineteenth century to the early 20th century. This is then the destruction of wetlands, and pesticides that have made survival difficult.
She enjoys forested wetlands and proximity to large bodies of fresh water, brackish, salt, rice fields and mudflats. It nests in trees or reed beds and more on the coastal and lowland wetlands.
Like all herons, the great egret feeds on insects, aquatic and terrestrial vertebrates, fish, small crustaceans and small mammals (mice, shrews, voles, muskrats young ...) through the reptiles (snakes, slow worms).
The breeding season begins in mid-April in the northern hemisphere. The start of construction of the nest made of branches, often with reeds and aquatic plants, sometimes in a tree overlooking the water at a height of 6 to 12 m high, is part of the courtship of the male. The parade saw the birds prepare their beautiful long feathers of the back and neck. These feathers are deployed as great fans. The female lays 4-5 eggs smooth, pale blue. (Only one brood per year) Incubation lasts about 23 or 24 days, by both adults. Chicks are semi-precocial.
The Great Egret has a complete protection on French territory since the Ministerial Decree of 17 April 1981 relating to protected birds on the entire territory. It is listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive of the European Union.