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What Is The Difference Between An Egret And A Heron? (Let’s Find The Difference)

What Is The Difference Between An Egret And A Heron? (Let’s Find The Difference)

An egret and a heron belong to the same family, Ardeidae order Ciconiiformes. This family of birds lives in inland and coastal wetland, grassland, wet forest, island, and agricultural area.

Although great egrets are slightly smaller than great blue herons in the white phase, the legs’ color sets them apart. Compared to great egrets, which have black legs, great blue herons in the white phase have significantly lighter legs. Herons also have “shaggier” feathers on their breast and slightly heavier beaks.

According to Wikipedia, there are 18 Ardeidae Genera with approximately 66 species. The members in this class mostly have long necks, short tails, slim bodies, long legs, and long pointed bills. Some species of this family are:

  • Great egret
  • Black-crowned night heron
  • Grey heron
  • Least bittern
  • Black-headed heron
  • Little bittern
  • Sun bittern
  • Malagasy pond heron

Learn more about them as you read this blog post.

A Heron

A heron

Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Ciconiiformes 
  • Family: Ardeidae


The herons are an ancient group of birds. They first emerged in the fossil record around 60-35 million years ago.

Herons are rare birds even by avian standards they are found in only 40 identified species. These include Ardea, Egretta, Nycticorax, and Ardeola.

They are categorized by extensive aquatic habitat. Herons closely resemble the kind of herons known today.

Most of these went extinct when humans settled on their island. Most extinct species are part of a single subfamily of the typical herons, the Ardeidae.


They belong to a group of aquatic birds. Most herons are long-legged, with long necks and pointed beaks. There are 65 different species in the heron family.

The herons are also known as shikepokes because they are various families of birds, and each species of heron is different.

Generally, they have long curved necks and long legs of birds, but some species are shorter than others. According to various countries and communities, herons symbolize strength, purity, long life, and patience in Africa and China.

American tribes consider him the symbol of wisdom—Egyptian people righteousness this bird as the creator of the light and innate. Iroquois tribes consider lucky signs. The herons are the most beautiful, elegant, and noble birds. They also recognize as expert hunters.

Physical Features

The herons are medium to large birds with long curved necks, long legs, short tails, extensive wings, and long dagger-shaped bills, which help them to hunt aquatic feed, small mammals, and reptiles. They are excellent flyers that can reach the speed of 30 miles per hour.

  • Height: 86 – 150 cm
  • Life span: 15 – 20 years
  • Wingspan: 150 – 195 cm
  • Massive breed: Goliath Heron
  • Smallest breed: Dwarf Bittern

Types of Herons

There are different types of herons. Plumage or feathers are gentle in color from class to class. Most are white and grey, though others are blue and green.

The tallest species stands about 5 feet tall however most species are more diminutive.

Grey Herons

Scientific name: Ardea cinerea

  • Wing span: 1.6 – 2 m
  • Mass: 1 – 2.1 kg
  • Length: 84 – 100cm
  • Higher classification: grey heron
  • Family: Ardeidae
  • Average life span: 5 years

They are long-legged, with white heads and necks and extensive black stripes extending from the eye to the black crest; the body or wings are grey, and some underparts are grayish-white. Their bills are long, sharp, and pointed, which helps them hunt.


Grey herons are social fowl. They are regularly found in Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Grey herons can be seen anywhere with suitable watery habitats. They also occur in mountains, lakes, rivers, ponds, flooded areas, and coastal lagoons. During the breeding period, their nest is in large colonies.


Grey herons are carnivores and like to eat fish or aquatic amphibians, but they also may eat small amphibians, snakes, and invertebrates like worms and earthworms.

Their diet depends on the season and what is currently available. They usually hunt around twilight but may also pursue at other times of the day.

Mating Habitat

  • Mating behavior: Monogamy
  • Breeding season: February, May, and June
  • Incubation period: 25 – 26 days
  • Independent age: 50 days
  • Baby carrying: 3 – 5 eggs

Great Blue Heron

Blue heron
Blue Heron


  • Scientific name: Ardea Herodias
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Mass: 2.1 – 3.6 kg
  • Length: 98 – 149 cm
  • Subclass: Neornithes
  • Infraclass: Neognathae
  • Order: Pelecaniformes
  • Family: Ardeidae
  • Wingspan: 6 – 7 foot (weight: 5-6 pounds)
  • Life span: 14 – 25 years


The great herons are elegant, intent, intelligent, and patient creatures. According to the American native traditions, the great blue herons signify self-determination and self-reliance. They also represent an ability to improve and grow.

The herons have long legs, crooked necks, and thick stiletto-like pointed beaks. Their head, chest, and wings give a shaggy appearance during flight, they curl their neck in an S shape, which provides them beauty and glory.


The great blue herons occur in many habitats, including freshwater swamps and marshes, mangroves, salt marshes, coastal lagoons, riverbanks, flooded meadows, and lake edges. They lived in the arctic and Neotropical regions.

These species are throughout North and Central America, southern Canada, and the Caribbean.


Blue herons are carnivores. They like to eat fish like frogs, snakes, lizards, salamanders, small mammals, grasshoppers, and aquatic invertebrates. They catch fish early in the morning and during dusk.

Mating Habitat

  • Mating behavior: Serial monogamy
  • Production season: In the south November-April and in the north March-May
  • Incubation period: 28 days
  • Independent age: 9 weeks
  • Baby carrying: 3-7 eggs

An Egret

 An Egret
An Egret

Scientific Classifications

  • Scientific name: Ardea Alba
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Family: Ardeidae
  • Genus: Egretta
  • Species: Egretta garzetta
  • Order: Pelecaniformes


Egret is a small, elegant bird with white plumes on its crest, back, and chest. They also have black legs and black bills with yellow feet.

It first appeared in the UK and was bred in Dorset in 1996. These birds represent good fortune and prosperity.

The Christians believe that the egret symbolizes gratitude and happiness; because of their plumage, they also represent the sign of devotion.

  • Length: 82 – 105 cm
  • Wingspan: 31 – 170 cm
  • Lifespan: up to 22 years
  • Weight: 1.5 -3.3 lbs


Egrets are found in southern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. It is most common along England and Wales’s south and east beaches.

Different kinds of these birds have different ranges. Some species only live in small areas, and others live across large regions.

Little egrets live in various habitats, including rivers, canals, pools, lagoons, marshes, and flood lands.


The egrets are carnivores. They feed on small creatures like fish, aquatic amphibians, frogs, spiders, small reptiles, and worms.

Mating Habitat

They built their nest on trees near water and gathered in groups called colonies. They are monogamous, and both parents incubate their eggs. A stronger sibling may kill their weaker kin.

  • Incubation period: 21 – 25 days
  • Independent age: 40 – 45 days
  • Baby carrying: 3 – 5 eggs

Types of Egrets

There are different species of little egrets:

  • Great egret
  • Little egret
  • Snowy egret
  • Cattle egret
  • Radish egret
  • Intermediate egret
  • Slaty egret
  • Chinese egret

Difference Between A Heron And An Egret

DescriptionsAn EgretA Heron
SizeSize is the main difference. They are small in size, with long black legs.They are taller than egrets and have long legs.
Neck and BillThey have long necks and light bills.
Small S-shaped neck. Long sharped and heavier bills.
WingsThey have white plumage and rounded wings.They have long, sharp wings.
GeneraThere are 4 genera.There are around 21 genera.
LegsThey have black legs with a white phase.They have yellow-orange and lighter legs.
AggressivenessThey are very aggressive only towards each other.They are quiet and elegant birds.
Social behaviorThey are shy birds.These birds like to live alone.
Egret vs. Heron
Let’s watch this video and discover more about the differences between herons and egrets.


  • Egrets and herons belong to the same family of Ardeidae. They have many identical features and characteristics in these two species, but at the same time, there are many differences as well.
  • Egrets are generally larger than herons and have long legs, beaks, and necks.
  • Herons have pale legs, but egrets have black legs and black beaks.
  • Egrets have white heads, bills, and white plumage. One more significant difference is aggression; great egrets are highly aggressive during breeding.
  • Egrets are timid birds; that’s why egrets are always alone. Egrets are self-determining and do not like being around other birds.

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