Wildlife in Italy: Little Egret - Egretta garzetta

Wildlife in Italy: Little Egret - Egretta garzetta

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Systematic classification and distribution

Class: Birds
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: ardeidi
Kind: Egret
Species: egret

The common egret (Egretta garzetta) lives mainly in marshy environments, canals, ponds and rivers, where it feeds on small fish, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, molluscs and insects which it catches with its beak from an emerged perch or chasing them with long stilts in shallow water. The populations present in Italy are partly migratory and partly sedentary. In the past it was hunted by man to seize the long scapular feathers used for ornamental purposes.

Little Egret Egretta garzetta (photo Luigi Turrini - Research Center of the Padule of Fucecchio)

Little Egret (photo

Little Egret (photo Alessio Bartolini)

Distinctive characters

Length: 50-60 cm
Weight: 400-600 gr
Wingspan: 100 cm

The egret is a small candid white heron typical of humid environments. Very slender, it has a thin bill and black legs and yellow feet. The wedding dress is characterized by a long crest of filiform feathers on the nape of the neck and a tuft of ornamental feathers that fall on the back. It emits a croaking and repeated verse. It has no evident sexual dimorphism. In flight the egret has the typical shape of the Herons with the head retracted between the shoulders, the Z-folded neck and the wings beaten slowly.


The egret feeds on small fish, larvae, amphibians, aquatic beetles and crustaceans found in shallow and open waters. The courtship takes place from late March to late April. The eggs (blue-greenish, on average 4) are hatched for about 20 days. It nests in mixed colonies together with other species, building large nests among the highest bushes or between the branches of willows and poplars. The chicks remain in the nest for about 30 days.

Video: Little egret Egretta garzetta (May 2022).