Great White Egret Ardea alba


Taxonomic note
Ardea alba (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) was previously placed in the genus Casmerodius as C. albus. Casmerodius albus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) was previously retained as a cross-regional species contra Christidis and Boles (2008) who moved C. albus into the genus Ardea and split it into two cross-regional species A. alba and A. modesta (note gender agreement of specific name for alba).

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.
SACC. 2005 and updates. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #
Turbott, E.G. 1990. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand. Ornithological Society of New Zealand, Wellington.

IUCN Red list criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - -

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2019 Least Concern
2016 Least Concern
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 -
Extent of occurrence (EOO)

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 368,000,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 366,000,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -
Population and trend
Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals 590000-2200000 poor estimated 2009
Population trend Unknown not applicable -
Decline (3 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (5 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/1 generation past) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation future) - - -
Decline (10 years/3 generation past and future) - - -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulations - - -
Generation length (yrs) 9.1 - - -

Population justification: Estimate includes totals for 'Ardea modesta'. The European population of A. alba is estimated at 20,700-34,900 pairs, which equates to 41,500-69,900 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015).

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

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

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Aquatic & Marine Artificial/Aquatic - 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
Food - human - - Non-trivial Recent
Handicrafts, jewellery, etc. - - International Non-trivial Recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Ardea alba. Downloaded from on 26/02/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/02/2020.