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Great egret

Ardea alba

A large white wading bird, with a long slender s-shaped neck and long dagger-like yellowish bill. Its long thin legs are black, and so are its feet. These elegant birds are often seen wading in the shallow water, slowly stalking its prey, or standing still waiting patiently for prey to come within striking distance, using its bill as a spear. Prey items include fish, amphibians, small mammals, insects, and crustaceans. During the nineteenth century a great number of egrets were killed for their plumes (called aigrettes), to supply the fashionable hat industry. Through legislative and conservation efforts numbers began to recover. Unfortunately, in some parts of the southern US their numbers have seen a decline, due to the loss of healthy wetlands. The great egret is used as a logo for the National Audubon Society.