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The Home Range of White Herons and Egrets - How and Where to Observe Large Wildfowl

Updated on December 8, 2011

A Wall of Herons

Hub Question asked: Do you see or observe white heron or egret in your place?

One of the most startling experiences of my life occurred on a walk across the long Riverwalk boardwalk along the Saginaw River in Downtown Bay City, Michigan. Native plants and wildlife are abundant in this area, including several types of large and small waterfowl and other birds. Walking past a small stand of willow trees, I saw a dozen tall Great Blue Herons standing in it, perhaps 10 yards away from the wooden pathway. It was a magnificent sight and I did not have a camera with me. The birds looked almost too tall for the tree.

Egrets were also present along the shoreline, and I saw a cormorant, many inland gulls, ducks, geese, and swans. This was a better experience than visiting a zoological park.

In the wild, it is easy to observe white herons and egrets in such areas as developed riverwalks that maintain native plants and trees along the shores, in public parks, and from boats. At times you can approach closely enough to see clearly without aid, but other times, binoculars or zoom lens photography are best.

Great White Heron, a mutation of the Great Blue Heron.
Great White Heron, a mutation of the Great Blue Heron. | Source

Home Range of the Great White Heron

The Great White Heron usually lives in the Caribbean and in Southern Florida around salt water, but I have seen one in Ohio.It had a heavier bill than the white egret and pale legs instead of black egret legs, so it was a heron.

Perhaps this lovely bird was simply flying through the state to some other destination, or perhaps this magnificent creature flew out of our huge zoological park in Central Ohio. Animals and birds sometimes do escape - Bison, monkeys, and a variety of birds have wondered away from the zoo and been recovered without harm. Monkeys On the Interstate by Jack Hanna tells us all of these types of stories with good humor.

Other than this, the Great White Heron is located in the two places mentioned above, but the Great Blue Heron can be found from Northern Canada all the way south to the northernmost portion of South America.

I have not seen the nest or eggs, but early discovery and description of these on the Audubon website (link the the Egret section below, specifically act ) includes " They (nests) were large, about three feet in diameter, formed of sticks of different sizes, but without any appearance of lining, and quite flat, being several inches thick. The eggs are always three, measure two inches and three quarters in length, one inch and eight-twelfths in breadth, and have a rather thick shell, of a uniform plain light bluish-green colour."

Home Range of the Great White Egret


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Florida Keys:
Florida Keys, FL, USA

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Great White Heron at Key Largo, Florida

Great White Egret in flight.
Great White Egret in flight. | Source
Nest and chicks in a tree.
Nest and chicks in a tree. | Source

Home Range of the Great White Egret

In 1953 the Great White Egret in flight (see photo) became the symbol of the National Audubon Society, an organization formed to stop birds from being killed for their features to be used in clothing and hats. The Great White Egret especially had declined in numbers from their harvesting for hat decorations. However, in the 2010s, they have recovered and spread from the Lower 48 States southward to the southern part of South America and all the way to the Eastern Hemisphere of the Old World. For this reason, they were renamed form American Egret to Great White Egret.

This bird has four subspecies and lives in many parts of the world, but can be seen often in North America as far north as Southern Canada. I have seen a few in Ohio and in Michigan and recognized that they could easily be mistaken for white herons. In fact, these birds are a type of heron; but, the Great White Heron is larger than this egret and is a from of the Great Blue Heron.

I have seen one nest of a Great White Egret in Michigan, but no chicks or eggs. However, they build platform nests of twigs up in the treetops or thick, woody vegetation of some sort. There may be form one to six pale blue-green eggs in a nest at once.

Great White Egret In Trees - Salisbury, Massachusetts

Locations I Have Seen the Great White Egret

Riverwalk, Bay City MI:
Riverwalk Pier, Bay City Loop (Bay County Riverwalk/Railtrail System), Bay City, MI 48706, USA

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Highbanks Park, Columbus OH:
Highbanks Metropark, 9466 Columbus Pike, Lewis Center, OH 43035-9414, USA

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Great Blue Heron standing in a tree in the Pacific Northwest.
Great Blue Heron standing in a tree in the Pacific Northwest. | Source


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      This is all good to hear. I really had not known abut the invisible nest belief. Glad the information I researched is helpful and thanks for posting!

    • nick071438 profile image


      7 years ago from City of Catbalogan, W, Samar, Philippines

      I have long wanted to know even through pictures and write-ups about white herons and allied species that have established sanctuary, rookery; build nests and lay eggs here in the Philippines. Up to now, I haven't received any positive feedback. Reports I've received of them are nothing but sightings of them in Philippine rice fields during land preparation and planting season. They've also found in Philippine mangrove swamps and marshes. I've personally observed them in above-named places.

      Thank you for the information and for the research effort exerted to make this hub a meaningful and valid one. I'm so delighted to have come across this (only now 9:25 Philippine time, Feb. 28, 2012) because this is the precise answer to the query which I've asked and posted. It is hyperlinked at the start of this article.

      This and a number of articles about heron and egret rookeries, sanctuaries, nests and eggs in other countries other than the Philippines that I've read, fortified the facts about them as gospel truth as opposed to the superstitious belief that said birds do build invisible nest and eggs in the Philippines.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Twelve at once - what a sight!

      We had one blue heron in a drainage ditch in a new housing complex here and I too had no camera with me. I admire your photos very much, btw.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Patty,

      It is wonderful when getting to see birds in the wild like the herons and egrets portrayed in this hub. We have egrets occasionally spotted in the greenbelt area where there is also a drainage ditch in our very own subdivision in Houston. One day there were about 12 of them all clustered together and I did not have my camera to capture the moment. Interesting hub!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      7 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      Say hello to Henri for me!

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      7 years ago from Washington

      Lovely and as I just had a great up close and personal experience with my new BFF Henri the Great Blue Heron (an immature here on our creek), love the pictures~~ They are magnificent birds and plan to follow Henri if he/she sticks around!

    • KristalB profile image


      7 years ago from St.Louis, MO

      Excellent article!! I love all the visuals.

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 

      7 years ago from Northern California

      What a beautiful article. Your high hub is well written,great length and the photos help us to better identify these regal birds.


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