Among the most elegant of the herons and egrets, the slender Snowy Egret sets off immaculate white plumage with black legs and brilliant yellow feet. Those feet seem to play a role in stirring up or herding small aquatic animals as the egret forages. Breeding Snowy Egrets grow filmy, curving plumes that once fetched astronomical prices in the fashion industry, endangering the species. Early conservationists rallied to protect egrets by the early twentieth century, and this species is once again a common sight in shallow coastal wetlands.
These are medium-sized egrets with long, thin legs and long, slender, bills. Their long, thin neck sets the small head well away from the body.
Adult Snowy Egrets are all white with a black bill, black legs, and yellow feet. They have a patch of yellow skin at the base of the bill. Immature Snowy Egrets have duller, greenish legs.
Snowy Egrets wade in shallow water to spear fish and other small aquatic animals. While they may employ a sit-and-wait technique to capture their food, sometimes they are much more animated, running back and forth through the water with their wings spread, chasing their prey.
They are most common along the coast, though they do breed patchily in inland wetlands. Snowy Egrets nest colonially, usually on protected islands, and often with other small herons. They concentrate on mudflats, beaches, and wetlands, but also forage in wet agricultural fields and along the edges of rivers and lakes.