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Great Egret with Yellow Feet


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This photo was taken in Minnesota a 2 days ago.  For last few years the Great Egrets have been gathering in a marsh close to my home.  When I was going through the photos I noticed this bird has yellow feet. When I took this photo I wasn't focusing on this bird, so it's not in focus, but his feet are visible.  Has anyone ever seen a Great Egret with yellow feet?

6_22_2018 Egret yellow feet DSC_0480.jpg

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Snowy egrets do, indeed, have yellow feet. But they don't come this far north- Minnesota- and they have black bills, and the bare skin at the base of the bill is yellow , and they're smaller than the Great Egret.

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10 minutes ago, bearcat6 said:

Snowy egrets have yellow feet

Snowy egrets do, indeed, have yellow feet. But they don't come this far north- Minnesota- and they have black bills, and the bare skin at the base of the bill is yellow , and they're smaller than the Great Egret.

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9 hours ago, Mike_56 said:

Laura its  Great Blue Heron -only  white -  https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/species-compare/60314301

I thought of that, and looked at the article before posting, but the bill and legs seemed wrong.  The Great Blue has a much larger , thicker, longer bill  and the legs are not black, they're pale in all forms. And, although it's pale, it does appear there is green at the base of the bill.

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This is definitely a Great Egret- the bill is off for White form Great Blue (All Great Blues have much thicker and somewhat longer bills, and even a white form bird would have blueish coloring on the top half of the bill as well). 

Structurally, this bird is fine for Great Egret as well- there's no reason for it not to be one other than the atypical color of the feet.  I haven't heard of this abnormality before, but it's likely just some odd individual variation/oddity. I wouldn't be surprised if this has been reported somewhere else. 

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That's what I thought, just a one-off.  If it doesn't rain today, I'm going back to see if I can spot him again.  By then end of that day, there were at least 30 of them in the marsh.  There were several in the trees and as the sun started dipping, they all joined together in one section of the marsh, and when they do that, there's a lot of posturing and territory spats, and when they do that they sometimes leap up a few feet, hopefully giving me another look.  GBH also have a head plume, which I know are not always easy to see, but in one of the photos the way his head is held, I would have expected to see  it, even a little of it.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Yesterday  on  3/31/20  I  had  a  Great  Egret  with  yellow  feet  that  looked  very  much  like  this  bird. It  was  on  Nummy  Island  in  Stone  Harbor, NJ. We've  had  a  very  mild  winter  and  a  few  Great  Egrets  overwintered  but  I  have  not  seen  a  Snowy  Egret  since  early  last  winter. I  was  picking  through  a  group  of  feeding  Great  Egrets  looking  for  a  Snowy  when  a  Great  Egret  flew  and  I  saw  the  yellow  feet. I  observed  the  bird  for  twenty  minutes. It  was  the  same  size  as  the  other  Great  Egrets  feeding  close  to  it  but  it  had  no  lime  green lores  at  the  back  of  the  yellow  orange  bill. The  bird  also  had  no  evidence  of  breeding  plumes  which  a  number  of  the  accompanying  birds were  beginning  to  show  so  I  think  it  is  a  juvenile  bird.

  Chuck  Slugg 

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17 hours ago, Nivalis said:

is it possible this could be a second or third generation hybrid of snowy/great egret so the size is the same as a great but the feet are different and there may be other subtle differences not being seen?

Are SNEGs and GREGs know to hybridize?

This has me wanting to pull all my old GREG photos to check the tootsies.

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7 minutes ago, Charlie Spencer said:

Are SNEGs and GREGs know to hybridize?

Yes, see this http://birdhybrids.blogspot.com/2017/03/great-egret-x-snowy-egret.html.

However, I think that the OP's bird is just an aberrant Great Egret. It's perfect structurally for a Great; the only thing abnormal is the feet color. I've heard of Little Egrets that have greenish legs so this sort of feature might not be that rare.

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  • 4 months later...

I would like report a similar observation of a GREG with yellow feet in Auburn, Alabama on 8-24-20.  I provide a full account of this observation in my egret gallery at:

https://pbase.com/lejun/gregyelfeet  Note to Laura who took and posted the photo:  I took to liberty of posting your photo in my gallery in the interest of scientific knowledge and gave you copyright credit.  If for any reason you object to my posting please let me know. 

I would greatly appreciate any further comments or opinions you might have on this particular GREG specimen.

Thank you,

Lew Scharpf

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On 4/1/2020 at 3:54 PM, Nivalis said:

is it possible this could be a second or third generation hybrid of snowy/great egret so the size is the same as a great but the feet are different and there may be other subtle differences not being seen?

I thought this might be a possibility. That's my take on it.

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  • 10 months later...
On 4/1/2020 at 10:15 AM, Chuck Slugg said:

Yesterday  on  3/31/20  I  had  a  Great  Egret  with  yellow  feet  that  looked  very  much  like  this  bird. It  was  on  Nummy  Island  in  Stone  Harbor, NJ. We've  had  a  very  mild  winter  and  a  few  Great  Egrets  overwintered  but  I  have  not  seen  a  Snowy  Egret  since  early  last  winter. I  was  picking  through  a  group  of  feeding  Great  Egrets  looking  for  a  Snowy  when  a  Great  Egret  flew  and  I  saw  the  yellow  feet. I  observed  the  bird  for  twenty  minutes. It  was  the  same  size  as  the  other  Great  Egrets  feeding  close  to  it  but  it  had  no  lime  green lores  at  the  back  of  the  yellow  orange  bill. The  bird  also  had  no  evidence  of  breeding  plumes  which  a  number  of  the  accompanying  birds were  beginning  to  show  so  I  think  it  is  a  juvenile  bird.

  Chuck  Slugg 

Hi, Chuck, I don't know how I missed the notifications, yours and a few others. That's very interesting.

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