About Great Egret (Egretta alba) Danube Delta
The great egret (Egretta alba) is part of the Heron family and it is the largest species in this family. In the Danube's Delta incubate 300 to 500 pairs, which arrive in the Delta during the second half of March.
The body of the great egret measures 45 cm alone, while its legs measure 90 cm. It has a long yellow beak, black tibia and a white plumage. During pairing season its beak turns black and the area between its beak and its eyes takes a greenish colour.
This impressive bird has a slow flight and it prefers channel and low water areas and generally, quiet areas.
The great egret prefers small fish over frogs. It has a particular way of fishing, which includes waiting for the prey and its long neck helps it catch it.
It nests in both specific and mixed colonies, alongside other species of heron, such as the glossy ibis or the great cormorant. Usually, its nest is built directly on the ground. In the Danube's Delta there is only one colony of birds which build their nests in this way. The rest of the specimens,present in the Delta, nest in willows.
The nest is made out of dry branches and it is renewed every year. The birds lay 4 eggs during April.
Starting from the Middle Age and up to the beginning of the 20th century, the great egret used to be sacrificed for its crest. Tons of feathers were exported. The natural enemies of this bird are diurnal prey birds and mammals, such as the jackal and the raccoon dog. Overfishing endangers this species.