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Great White Egret Ardea alba
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 57,200,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 590000-2200000 poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Unknown Not Applicable -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 9.1 - - -
Population justification: Estimate includes totals for 'Ardea modesta'.
Trend justification: The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing, stable fluctuating or have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (177% increase over 40 years, equating to a 29% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Afghanistan Native Extant   Yes    
Albania Native Extant     Yes Yes
Algeria Native Extant        
Angola Native Extant        
Anguilla (to UK) Native Extant        
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant        
Argentina Native Extant        
Armenia Native Extant        
Aruba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Australia Native Extant Yes      
Austria Native Extant       Yes
Azerbaijan Native Extant       Yes
Bahamas Native Extant        
Bahrain Native Extant   Yes    
Bangladesh Native Extant        
Barbados Native Extant        
Belarus Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Belgium Native Extant   Yes    
Belize Native Extant   Yes    
Benin Native Extant        
Bhutan Native Extant        
Bolivia Native Extant        
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Native Extant        
Botswana Native Extant        
Brazil Native Extant        
British Indian Ocean Territory Vagrant Extant        
Brunei Native Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant       Yes
Burkina Faso Native Extant        
Burundi Native Extant        
Cambodia Native Extant        
Cameroon Native Extant        
Canada Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Central African Republic Native Extant        
Chad Native Extant        
Chile Native Extant        
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Christmas Island (to Australia) Native Extant        
Colombia Native Extant        
Comoros Native Extant        
Congo Native Extant        
Congo, The Democratic Republic of the Native Extant        
Costa Rica Native Extant   Yes    
Côte d'Ivoire Native Extant        
Croatia Native Extant     Yes Yes
Cuba Native Extant        
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Cyprus Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Czech Republic Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Denmark Native Extant     Yes  
Djibouti Vagrant Extant        
Dominica Native Extant        
Dominican Republic Native Extant        
Ecuador Native Extant        
Egypt Native Extant        
El Salvador Native Extant        
Equatorial Guinea Vagrant Extant        
Eritrea Native Extant        
Ethiopia Native Extant        
Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Native Extant        
Fiji Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Native Extant     Yes Yes
French Guiana Native Extant        
Gabon Native Extant        
Gambia Native Extant        
Georgia Native Extant Yes      
Germany Native Extant     Yes  
Ghana Native Extant        
Greece Native Extant     Yes Yes
Grenada Native Extant        
Guadeloupe (to France) Native Extant        
Guam (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Guatemala Native Extant        
Guinea Native Extant        
Guinea-Bissau Native Extant Yes      
Guyana Native Extant        
Haiti Native Extant        
Honduras Native Extant        
Hong Kong (China) Native Extant Yes      
Hungary Native Extant     Yes Yes
India Native Extant        
Indonesia Native Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant     Yes Yes
Iraq Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Ireland Vagrant Extant        
Israel Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Italy Native Extant     Yes Yes
Jamaica Native Extant   Yes    
Japan Native Extant        
Jordan Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Kazakhstan Native Extant Yes      
Kenya Native Extant        
Kuwait Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Kyrgyzstan Native Extant   Yes    
Laos Native Extant        
Latvia Native Extant Yes      
Lebanon Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Lesotho Native Extant        
Liberia Native Extant        
Libya Native Extant        
Liechtenstein Vagrant Extant        
Luxembourg Vagrant Extant        
Macao (China) Native Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant       Yes
Madagascar Native Extant        
Malawi Native Extant        
Malaysia Native Extant        
Maldives Native Extant        
Mali Native Extant Yes      
Malta Vagrant Extant        
Martinique (to France) Native Extant        
Mauritania Native Extant        
Mayotte (to France) Native Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
Micronesia, Federated States of Native Extant   Yes    
Moldova Native Extant     Yes Yes
Mongolia Native Extant Yes      
Montenegro Native Extant     Yes Yes
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant        
Morocco Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Myanmar Native Extant        
Namibia Native Extant        
Nepal Native Extant        
Netherlands Native Extant       Yes
New Caledonia (to France) Vagrant Extant        
New Zealand Native Extant Yes      
Nicaragua Native Extant        
Niger Native Extant        
Nigeria Native Extant        
North Korea Native Extant Yes      
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Norway Vagrant Extant        
Oman Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Pakistan Native Extant        
Palau Native Extant   Yes    
Palestinian Authority Territories Native Extant   Yes    
Panama Native Extant        
Papua New Guinea Native Extant Yes      
Paraguay Native Extant        
Peru Native Extant        
Philippines Native Extant        
Poland Native Extant     Yes Yes
Portugal Native Extant   Yes    
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant Yes      
Qatar Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Romania Native Extant     Yes Yes
Russia Native Extant       Yes
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (European) Native Extant     Yes Yes
Rwanda Native Extant        
São Tomé e Príncipe Vagrant Extant        
Saudi Arabia Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Senegal Native Extant Yes      
Serbia Native Extant     Yes Yes
Seychelles Vagrant Extant        
Sierra Leone Native Extant        
Singapore Native Extant        
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Slovakia Native Extant     Yes Yes
Slovenia Native Extant   Yes    
Solomon Islands Native Extant Yes      
Somalia Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant Yes      
South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands Native Extant        
South Korea Native Extant        
South Sudan Native Extant     Yes  
Spain Native Extant       Yes
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
St Helena (to UK) Vagrant Extant        
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant        
St Lucia Native Extant        
St Martin (to France) Native Extant        
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant        
Sudan Native Extant        
Suriname Native Extant        
Swaziland Native Extant        
Sweden Vagrant Extant        
Switzerland Native Extant   Yes    
Syria Native Extant     Yes Yes
Taiwan (China) Native Extant        
Tajikistan Native Extant Yes      
Tanzania Native Extant Yes      
Thailand Native Extant        
Timor-Leste Native Extant       Yes
Togo Native Extant        
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant        
Tunisia Native Extant   Yes    
Turkey Native Extant       Yes
Turkmenistan Native Extant Yes      
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Uganda Native Extant        
Ukraine Native Extant     Yes Yes
United Arab Emirates Native Extant   Yes    
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant        
Uruguay Native Extant Yes      
USA Native Extant Yes      
Uzbekistan Native Extant Yes      
Venezuela Native Extant        
Vietnam Native Extant   Yes    
Virgin Islands (to UK) Native Extant       Yes
Virgin Islands (to USA) Native Extant       Yes
Yemen Native Extant     Yes  
Zambia Native Extant Yes      
Zimbabwe Native Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Afghanistan Hamun-i-Puzak site factsheet
Albania Karavasta Lagoon site factsheet
Argentina Reserva de Uso Múltiple Bañados del Río Dulce y Laguna Mar Chiquita site factsheet
Austria Neusiedler See site factsheet
Austria Southern Seewinkel and Zitzmannsdorfer Wiesen site factsheet
Azerbaijan Gizilagach State Reserve site factsheet
Botswana Okavango Delta site factsheet
Bulgaria Adata-Tundzha site factsheet
Bulgaria Gorni Dabnik-Telish Reservoir site factsheet
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Obnova Fish-ponds site factsheet
Bulgaria Ovtcharitsa Reservoir site factsheet
Bulgaria Plovdiv Fish-ponds site factsheet
Bulgaria Srebarna site factsheet
Bulgaria Zhrebchevo Reservoir site factsheet
Bulgaria Zvanichevo Fish-ponds site factsheet
Cambodia Prek Toal site factsheet
Cameroon Logone flood-plain site factsheet
China (mainland) Aksu River basin site factsheet
China (mainland) Bayanbulak and Kaidu River Valley site factsheet
China (mainland) Bosten Lake site factsheet
China (mainland) Desert and wetland from Northern Urumqi to Dabancheng site factsheet
China (mainland) Heyang Huang He Wetlands Nature Reserve site factsheet
China (mainland) Oasis, Desert and Wetland at Mosuowan site factsheet
China (mainland) Tarim Euphrates Poplar Forest Nature Reserve site factsheet
China (mainland) Ulungur Hu and Jili Hu (Fu Hai) site factsheet
Croatia Danube and Drava rivers' lowland areas site factsheet
Croatia Donji Miholjac fish-ponds site factsheet
Croatia Jelas field including fishponds and wet pastures along Sava RIver site factsheet
Croatia Lower Sava river site factsheet
Croatia Nasicka Breznica fish-ponds site factsheet
Croatia Pokupski pool site factsheet
Czech Republic Trebonsko (Trebon region) site factsheet
Egypt Lake Manzala site factsheet
Egypt Lake Maryut site factsheet
Gambia Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve site factsheet
Gambia Dankunku wetlands site factsheet
Gambia Islands of the Central River Division site factsheet
Ghana Keta Lagoon Ramsar Site site factsheet
Greece Amvrakikos gulf site factsheet
Greece Divari Pylou (Gialova) lagoon and Sfaktiria island site factsheet
Greece Kalamas delta site factsheet
Greece Kotychi lagoon site factsheet
Greece Lagoons of Kerkyra island site factsheet
Greece Lake Ismarida (Mitrikou) site factsheet
Greece Lake Kerkini site factsheet
Greece Lakes Volvi, Koroneia and Rentina Gorge site factsheet
Greece Nestos delta and coastal lagoons site factsheet
Greece Porto Lagos, lake Vistonida and coastal lagoons site factsheet
Greece Reservoirs of former Lake Karla site factsheet
Guinea-Bissau Arquipélago dos Bijagós site factsheet
Hong Kong (China) Inner Deep Bay and Shenzhen River catchment area site factsheet
Hungary Bodrogzug–Taktaköz site factsheet
Hungary Hortobágy and Tisza-to site factsheet
Hungary Kolon Lake site factsheet
Hungary Lake Kis-Balaton site factsheet
Hungary Lower Tisza Valley site factsheet
Indonesia Rawa Tulang Bawang site factsheet
Indonesia Tanjung Puting site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Arjan Protected Area site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Bandar Kiashar lagoon and mouth of Sefid Rud site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Dez dam site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Gomishan marshes and Turkoman steppes site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Hamoun-i Sabari and Hamoun-i Hirmand site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Hilleh Protected Area site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Izeh and Sheikho lakes site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Khouran Straits site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Alagol, Lake Ulmagol and Lake Ajigol site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Bakhtegan, Lake Tashk and Kamjan marshes site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Rud-i-Shur, Rud-i-Shirin and Rud-i-Minab deltas site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of South end of the Hamoun-i Puzak site factsheet
Israel Carmel coast site factsheet
Israel Hefer valley site factsheet
Israel Jezre'el, Harod and Bet She'an valleys site factsheet
Israel Lake Kinneret and Kinerot site factsheet
Israel Zevulun valley site factsheet
Italy Argentario, Laguna di Orbetello Lagoon e Lago di Burano site factsheet
Italy Punte Alberete and Valle della Canna, Pineta San Vitale and Pialassa della Baiona site factsheet
Italy River Mincio and Bosco Fontana site factsheet
Italy Venice lagoon site factsheet
Kazakhstan Caspian Sea shore between Volga and Ural River Deltas site factsheet
Kazakhstan Delta of the Ural River site factsheet
Kazakhstan Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Kazakhstan Lesser Aral Sea site factsheet
Kazakhstan Uyalyshalkar Lake System site factsheet
Kenya Tana River Delta site factsheet
Latvia Engure lake site factsheet
Lithuania Wetland complex of the Baltoji Voke fish-farm with neighbouring turbary and lake Papis site factsheet
Madagascar Bemamba Wetland Complex site factsheet
Madagascar Bombetoka Bay - Marovoay NPA site factsheet
Madagascar Lake Sahaka - Analabe NPA site factsheet
Mali Kouakourou site factsheet
Mali Koumbé Niasso site factsheet
Mali Lac Débo - Lac Oualado Débo site factsheet
Mali Lac Faguibine site factsheet
Mali Lac Horo site factsheet
Mali Séri site factsheet
Mali Timisobo - Képagou site factsheet
Mauritania Diawling National Park site factsheet
Mexico Bahia de Ceuta-Cospita site factsheet
Mexico Estero Cardonal site factsheet
Mongolia Khar Us Lake site factsheet
Montenegro Lake Skadar site factsheet
Oman Barr al Hikman site factsheet
Pakistan Indus Dolphin Reserve and Kandhkot wetlands site factsheet
Philippines Buguey wetlands site factsheet
Philippines Candaba swamp site factsheet
Philippines Manila Bay site factsheet
Philippines Olango Island site factsheet
Philippines Ragay Gulf site factsheet
Poland Barycz river valley site factsheet
Poland Biebrza river valley site factsheet
Poland Jeziorsko reservoir site factsheet
Poland Warta River Mouth site factsheet
Romania Balta Albă - Amara - Jirlău site factsheet
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei site factsheet
Romania Balta Vederoasa site factsheet
Romania Blahniţa site factsheet
Romania Calafat - Ciuperceni - Dunăre site factsheet
Romania Cârja - Maţa - Rădeanu - Roşcani site factsheet
Romania Cefa fish-ponds and Radvani wood site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Ilfov reservoir site factsheet
Romania Jijiei şi Miletinului fish-ponds site factsheet
Romania Lunca Siretului Inferior site factsheet
Romania Suhaia site factsheet
Russia (European) Achikol'skiye lakes site factsheet
Russia (European) Berkubinski forest site factsheet
Russia (European) Burukshunskiye limans site factsheet
Russia (European) Cherebayevskaya floodplain site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don site factsheet
Russia (European) Flood-plain of Iput' river in vicinity of Krutoyar site factsheet
Russia (European) Kazachka site factsheet
Russia (European) Khanskoye Lake site factsheet
Russia (European) Kiziltash limans site factsheet
Russia (European) Large liman site factsheet
Russia (European) Lower Eruslan site factsheet
Russia (European) Oling area site factsheet
Russia (European) Veselovskoye reservoir site factsheet
Russia (European) Volga Delta site factsheet
Senegal Delta du Saloum site factsheet
Senegal Djoudj wetlands site factsheet
Serbia Gornje Podunavlje site factsheet
Serbia Pašnjaci Velike Droplje site factsheet
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone River Estuary site factsheet
Sierra Leone Yawri Bay site factsheet
Slovakia Medzibodrozie site factsheet
Slovakia Senné site factsheet
Slovenia Črete site factsheet
Slovenia River Drava site factsheet
Slovenia River Mura site factsheet
Somalia Xawaadley reservoir site factsheet
South Africa Nyl River Floodplain site factsheet
South Sudan Sudd (Bahr-el-Jebel system) site factsheet
Tanzania Moyowosi - Kigosi Game Reserves site factsheet
Tanzania Ugalla River Game Reserve site factsheet
Tanzania Wembere steppe site factsheet
Thailand Sanambin site factsheet
Tunisia Boughrara site factsheet
Tunisia Salines de Monastir site factsheet
Turkey Seyhan Delta site factsheet
Turkmenistan Gorelde site factsheet
Ukraine Berdyans'ka peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Dnipro delta site factsheet
Ukraine Dnister delta site factsheet
Ukraine Karachunivs'ke reservoir site factsheet
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays site factsheet
Ukraine Konka river mouth site factsheet
Ukraine Kyivs'ke reservoir site factsheet
Ukraine Molochnyj Liman site factsheet
Ukraine Mzha river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Obytichna peninsula site factsheet
Ukraine Oril' river valley site factsheet
Ukraine Samars'kyj forest site factsheet
Ukraine Stentsivs'ko-Zhebriyanivs'ki plavni site factsheet
Ukraine Syvash Bay site factsheet
Ukraine Tsybul'kivs'ki lakes site factsheet
Ukraine Tyligul's'kyj lyman site factsheet
USA Lake Martin site factsheet
Uzbekistan Ayakaghytma lake and surrounding desert site factsheet
Uzbekistan Dalverzin State Forestry and Hunting Management Area site factsheet
Uzbekistan Northern shore of Aydarkul Lake site factsheet
Uzbekistan Sudochye Lake site factsheet
Uzbekistan Tudakul and Kuymazar Reservoirs site factsheet
Vietnam Binh Dai site factsheet
Vietnam U Minh Thuong site factsheet
Zambia Bangweulu Swamps site factsheet
Zambia Kafue Flats site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Salt Exploitation Sites Suitable breeding
Grassland Subtropical/Tropical Seasonally Wet/Flooded Major breeding
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats Suitable breeding
Marine Intertidal Mud Flats and Salt Flats Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands Major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) Major breeding
Altitude 0 - 1500 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Minority (<50%) Unknown Unknown
Ecosystem degradation


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Wearing apparel, accessories Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Historical
Wearing apparel, accessories Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Historical
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - - Subsistence, National
Food - human - - - Subsistence, National
Handicrafts, jewellery, decorations, curios, etc. - - - International

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Ardea alba. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Ardeidae (Herons)
Species name author (Linnaeus, 1758)
Population size 590000-2200000 mature individuals
Population trend Unknown
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 57,200,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- Projected distributions under climate change
- 2015 European Red List assessment