Habitat area for the Great Egret
A recent visit to Melbourne found me in the new outer suburb of Doreen again, where a significant area of artificial ponds and walkways are featured in the development. Large areas of reed beds and water weeds provide food and shelter for wild birds and other wildlife. Many water birds frequent the area including the Great Egret – a distinctive white bird, as well as native ducks, darters, cormorants and a family of black swans.
An elegant white bird
The Great Egret is a very elegant white bird, standing up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, with a long neck, yellow spear like beak and long black legs. The Egret feeds in shallow waters, sometimes stalking its prey along the marshy edges, before jabbing its deadly spear like beak, with one swift thrust into its hapless prey. This is then followed by the Egret carrying out a number of gulping motions, its neck a series of convoluted curves, as it attempts to swallow its prey.
The Great Egret repeats the gulping motions a few times, until it finally succeeds in passing its catch down the curves of its long thin neck. The diet of this great white bird consists mainly of fish, frogs and small mammals. It feeds in shallow water and sometimes adds small reptiles and insects to its diet.
A graceful white bird in flight
The Great Egret is a very graceful white bird in flight, with a wingspan of 131 to 170cm. It breeds in colonies in tree tops, close to lakes with reed beds, or other wetland areas that offer suitable protection and breeding sites. The nest is a large platform of sticks placed in a tree over the water. Both sexes construct the nest, incubate the eggs and care for the young. The egret usually lays 2-6 eggs in the breeding season (October to May). Hopefully I will see this elegant white bird again on my visits to Doreen.