Family Herons (Ardeidae)

Least Concern

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)


French: Aigrette garzette German: Seidenreiher Spanish: Garceta común

Ardea Garzetta


, 1766,

“in Oriente”; restricted to Malalbergo, north-eastern Italy


Closely related to E. thula (which see). Often considered conspecific with E. gularis (which see). Race immaculata sometimes synonymized with nigripes, but probably worthy of recognition; these two forms apparently differ vocally from nominate; further study needed. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. g. garzetta (Linnaeus, 1766) – Palearctic from Britain, Spain and NW Africa E to Korea and Japan; scattered in rest of Africa, Middle East, India and SE Asia, and in Philippines; also Barbados and recently Antigua#R. Perhaps in process of colonizing E USA.
  • E. g. nigripes (Temminck, 1840) – Greater Sundas E through Wallacea to lowland New Guinea and Aru Is.
  • E. g. immaculata (Gould, 1846) – W, N & E Australia and Tasmania; regular visitor in New Zealand.
  • Descriptive notes

    55–65 cm; 280–710 g; wingspan 86–104 cm. Thin-bodied, medium-sized white or dark heron, with long, thin neck and bill, dark legs and yellow feet, and... read more


    Rather vocal: gives “kre, kre, kre” or “kark, kark, kark” in aggression and flight, with an “aaah”... read more


    Wide variety, frequenting all kinds of open wetlands, both ephemeral and permanent, with shallow... read more

    Food and feeding

    Highly opportunistic and swift to take advantage of local prey abundances, with birds feeding in one locality until prey capture sinks... read more


    In Palearctic, mainly Mar–Jul, but season starts in Feb and eggs recorded as late as Sept in Israel; in tropical Africa, most laying... read more


    Extensive post-breeding dispersal, between Jul and Sept in garzetta. Palearctic breeders... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Like other white egrets, seriously persecuted for plume trade (at was possibly even breeding in England during Middle Ages); during... read more

    Recommended citation

    Martínez-Vilalta, A., Motis, A., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Little Egret (Egretta garzetta). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 February 2020).