New York Natural Heritage Program
Great Egret
Ardea alba Linnaeus, 1758
Master, Larry
Family: Herons, Bitterns, and Egrets (Ardeidae)

State Protection: Protected Bird
Defined as a Protected Bird by New York State law. This species may not be hunted or taken at any time in New York.

Federal Protection: Migratory Bird Treaty Act
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act implements various treaties and conventions between the U. S. and Canada, Japan, Mexico and the former Soviet Union for the protection of migratory birds. Under this Act, taking, killing, or possessing migratory birds, including nests or eggs, is unlawful unless specifically permitted by other regulations.

State Rarity Rank: S4
A State Rarity Rank of S4 means: Apparently secure in New York State.

Global Rarity Rank: G5
A Global Rarity Rank of G5 means: Demonstrably secure globally, though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery.

Did you know?
Both male and female Great Egrets take turns incubating their eggs and brooding their young (Wiese 1975 in McCrimmon et al. 2001).

State Ranking Justification [-]
The Great Egret is known to occur in ten counties in New York State (New York Breeding Bird Atlas 2000-2005, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). The population peaked in 1975 at 410 breeding pairs, during a period of fluctuation, and then reached a stable population by 1988 (Peterson 1988 cited in Andrle and Carroll 1988). New York's Great Egret population has been growing steadily since the first breeding attempt in 1953. The abundance of breeding birds on Long Island has nearly tripled since 1985 and the breeding popualtion has expanded its range both northward to Lake Champlain and eastward to the Niagara River. The greatest former threat of hunting has been essentially eliminated and productivity losses and mortality from pollution, contamination and habitat loss seem to be low enough to allow for population expansion (McGowan and Corwin 2008). The sizeable, growing population, high number of occurrences and threats that are not impinging on popualtion expansion contributed to the S4 rank for this egret. The rank was calculated using the Element Rank Estimator, version 6.03.

Short-term Trends [-]

Long-term Trends [-]