The great egret

Writer: Isaac Cohen  |  Editor: Ye Shangqing  |  From: Shenzhen Daily  |  Updated: 2022-06-23

A great egret is seen with its prey in Honghu Park, Luohu District.

One of the biggest and most noticeable birds you can enjoy in Shenzhen is the beautiful great egret (Ardea alba), a one-meter-tall bird with a long neck and slender legs. Their bodies are covered by the whitest of plumages and when flying you can enjoy their impressive 1.5-meter wingspan. Its sharp long, beak in tender yellow ensures a fast and accurate catch of their prey, including small fish, crustaceans and even small vertebrates like frogs and lizards.


Great egrets tend to keep only one partner during the mating season, and the male, responsible for selecting the nesting place, will perform a beautiful mating ritual to attract his partner. The breeding season is normally in April when spring begins.


A great egret is seen with its prey in Shenzhen Bay, Nanshan District.

After laying the eggs, approximately three or four per clutch, both parents take part in the process of incubation. The chicks will hatch after about three weeks, ready to be fed. Interestingly, whenever an egg is damaged or predated, a new one will be laid to replace it, making sure that a couple will always have their intended number of offspring. After the chicks are born, both parents help raising them for another three weeks until they are ready to leave the nest.


Great egrets can be easily spotted in our city all year round, especially in the Shenzhen Bay area and in some parks, such as Honghu Park and OCT Wetland Park.