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the web of life in southern Africa

Egretta thula (Snowy egret)

Sneeuwitreier [Afrikaans]; Amerikaanse kleine zilverreiger [Dutch]; Aigrette neigeuse [French]; Schmuckreiher [German]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Ardeidae

Egretta thula (Snowy egret)  

Snowy egret, California, USA. [photo David Marotta ]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs in the Americas and West Indies, dispersing widely after breeding. It has been recorded once in southern Africa - a juvenile was sighted which stayed at Sandvlei, Cape Peninsula, South Africa in April 2002. It generally favours lakes, marshes, ponds, shallow lagoons, mangroves and mudflats, rarely occurring on dryland meadows.


It eats mainly fish, crustaceans and aquatic insects, doing most of its foraging buy stirring its foot in shallow water to flush prey.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.