Great Egret

Scientific Name: Ardea alba

Malay Name: Bangau Besar

Chinese Name: 大白鹭

Range: Found from North America, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Europe, Central Asia, Siberia, Indian subcontinent, China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia to Australia. More northerly populations winter to central America, southern Africa, southern Europe and Southeast Asia.

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: alba, melanorhynchos, egretta, modesta.

Local Subspecies: modesta

Size: 85-102 cm

Identification: Plumage of non-breeding adult is all white with heavy yellow bill and black legs. Breeding adult has red legs and black bill. Distinguished from other white Egret species by longer and strongly kinked neck and pointed extension of facial skin (gape line) which extends beyond eye. Juvenile resembles non-breeding adult.

Similar looking species: Eastern Cattle Egret, Intermediate Egret, Little Egret, Pacific Reef Heron, Chinese Egret

Habitat: Various inland and coastal wetlands, mangroves and mudflats.

Behaviour/Ecology: Feeds on mostly fish, but will also take amphibians (frogs), aquatic invertebrates (insects, crayfish), and reptiles (snakes).

Local Status: Common migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2019)

Location: Sungei Buloh, Mandai Mudflat, Seletar Mudflat, Kranji Marsh, Tuas South, Pulau Ubin (Chek Jawa) and any suitable patch of habitat.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

Great Egret Ardea alba
Estimated average number of individuals by week based on eBird data, Jul 2013 to Jun 2023
Peak week Dec 24-Dec 30
Early date 01 Jul 2023
Late date 30 Jun 2023
The largest Ardea egret in Singapore.


BirdLife International. (2019). Ardea alba. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.

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