Whether fishing or fighting, the great egret’s razor-sharp bill is an amazing tool:
- Stalking & spearing: Standing motionless or slowly wading in shallow water, great egrets wait for prey (mainly small fish and amphibians) to swim by. With a swift stab of the bill, they pierce or snap up the oblivious prey—then swallow them whole.
- Sibling rivalry: Dominant chicks have been known to use their bills to attack weaker siblings in the nest, sometimes resulting in death.
- Nest defense: Great egrets most often nest in isolated tree-top colonies with other water birds. If a predator manages to make it to a nest, they’ll be met with sharp thrusting bills.
Support for Bird the Preserves was generously provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through Chicago Wilderness. Top photo by Paul Dacko.