Geographical Range North America, West Indies, South America
Habitat Marshes, lakes, swamps, ponds, lagoons, mangroves
Scientific Name Egretta thula
Conservation Status Common

Like other egrets and herons, these wading birds forage for prey in shallow water, probing with their long beak in search of fish, crabs, amphibians, and insects. Snowy egrets have a habit of scraping their feet to stir up food. They also use a clever method to help spot fish under the surface: they spread out one wing to cast a shadow on the water, reducing glare.

Snowy egrets sport extra-long silky feathers on their back during courtship. It's these feathers that were nearly the species' downfall. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, women's hats featuring showy feathers became the fashion rage in Europe and North America. Millions of birds (especially snowy egrets, great white egrets, and little egrets) were killed for their beautiful plumage. As a result, their numbers depleated. At the beginning of the 20th century, the snowy egret was almost extinct in Florida and other parts of its range.

As soon as the species gained legal protection, the egrets began a comeback. Today they are no longer threatened.