Keep an eye out for Great White Herons

This is a Great Egret

This update is being circulated in Southeastern states as a way to obtain information about a group of Great White Herons which have been tagged in Florida.
The Great White Heron is the white version (or morph) of the Great Blue Heron.  Most of the large white birds we see on Dewees are the one at the left, the Great Egret.  You can tell the two birds apart by looking at the following features:

  • Size:  The Great White Heron is considerably larger than the Great Egret:  with a length of 46″ and a wingspan of 72″.  It can weigh over 5 lbs.  The Great Egret is 39″ long with a wingspan of 51″ and weighs less than 2 lbs.
  • Leg color:  The Great White Heron has buffy gray legs while the Great Egret has blackish legs and feet.
  • Bill:  The Great White Heron has a broader base to its heavier bill, and the bill is straighter than the slight downward curve of the Great Egret. (although I can’t imagine being able to tell this in the field if they aren’t next to each other.)

If you see one of these birds, please write down any tag information you can read, and let Lori know asap, so she can notify the proper scientists.  You can also email the person listed below.  Thanks!

Avian Research and Conservation Institute (Gainesville, Florida) has
color banded 42 juveniles and six adults as part of a study of foraging
ranges and dispersal of Great White Herons in southern Florida.  We
would appreciate reports of any observations of these marked birds,
which might be seen anywhere on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts or in the

The bands are positioned high (tibia) on the RIGHT leg and are either
RED or BLUE with white letters and numbers. This alpha-numeric code
consists of two characters stacked vertically (e.g., T over 3).  There
also will be a USFWS aluminum band low (tarsus) on the left leg.  An
additional 26 Great White Herons were marked only with USFWS bands.

If you see one of these marked birds, please report the band color and
the alpha-numeric code (as much of it as you can read), date, and
location as specifically as possible.  All information should be sent by
email to Gina Kent at  All observers will receive
background information on the bird they report and will be acknowledged
in print.

Thank you for your interest and assistance!

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