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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Great Egret - Ardea alba

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: SNA

Agency Status


External Links

General Description
A large wading bird with all-white plumage; long black legs and feet; a long neck; and a long, straight, pointed, yellow bill; in breeding plumage, long white plumes extend from back beyond end of tail; average length 99 cm, wingspan 130 cm.

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Diagnostic Characteristics
Differs from most other white herons in larger size (averages 23 cm longer than Reddish Egret, 38 cm longer than Snowy Egret), unicolored yellowish bill, and all-black legs and feet. Differs from the white form of the Great Blue Heron in having black legs and feet (versus yellowish).

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions


Western Hemisphere Range


Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 215

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding

Indirect Evidence of Breeding

No Evidence of Breeding

WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Regularly Observed

Not Regularly Observed


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

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Citation for data on this website:
Great Egret — Ardea alba.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from