But first : how to distinguish between the two species of white egrets commonly seen in California.
I was lucky enough to get this shot of both species standing side by side for an excellent comparison.
|Compare: size difference, feet color, bill color|
|Great egret, with yellow bill and black feet|
|While the lores (areas of skin between the bill and eye on either side of the head) of the snowy |
egret turn red during peak breeding season, those of the great egret turn bright green.
In September, this egret is still showing a hint of that green.
|Great egret, in typical egret habitat: a wetland margin, surrounded by cattails (Typha sp.)|
(Aside: Cattle egrets (Bubulcus ibis), though not treated at this time, are a third white egret found in California. They are smaller than the great egret, with a shorter, stouter bill and generally stockier appearance. Adult cattle egrets have a yellow bill and yellow to pinkish legs; juveniles have dark bills and legs. Cattle egrets spend most of their time in grassy fields, often associated with livestock, and rarely are associated with wetlands, as are snowy and great egrets. Cattle egrets are originally from Africa, and were introduced to North America in the 1950's.)