New York Natural Heritage Program
Snowy Egret
Egretta thula (Molina, 1782)

Habitat [-]
Snowy Egrets inhabit open edges of rivers, lakes, salt marshes, salt pannes, brackish interdunal swales, marine intertidal zones and maritime beaches and shrubland in New York (Budliger and Kennedy 2005, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). They nest in dense scrub thickets on coastal sand dunes close to feeding areas, usually 3-10 feet off the ground (Bull 1974 in Andrle and Carroll 1988).

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Brackish interdunal swales
    Temporarily tidally flooded temperate marshes in interdunal swales dominated by salt-tolerant graminoids. Individual swales occur as small patches positioned between fore-, primary and secondary dunes in a maritime dunes system, typically on barrier islands.
  • High salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide up to the limit of spring tides. It is periodically flooded by spring tides and flood tides. High salt marshes typically consist of a mosaic of patches that are mostly dominated by a single graminoid species.
  • Low salt marsh
    A coastal marsh community that occurs in sheltered areas of the seacoast, in a zone extending from mean high tide down to mean sea level or to about 2 m (6 ft) below mean high tide. It is regularly flooded by semidiurnal tides. The mean tidal range of low salt marshes on Long Island is about 80 cm, and they often form in basins with a depth of 1.6 m or greater.
  • Marine rocky intertidal
    A community inhabiting rocky shores that are washed by rough, high-energy ocean waves. Characteristic organisms are attached marine algae, mussels, sea stars, urchins, and barnacles that can withstand the impact of the waves and periodic desiccation. Examples of this community in New York typically have gently sloping rocky shores comprised of boulders (0.25 to 3 m diameter) and/or cobbles (6.4 to 25 cm). Bedrock outcrops may be present in a few examples, but not to the extent or as steep as those described in other New England states, such as Maine. The community is typically rich in species. Attached organisms cover usually more than 60% of the substrate, especially at the lower intertidal zone.
  • Maritime beach
    A community with extremely sparse vegetation that occurs on unstable sand, gravel, or cobble ocean shores above mean high tide, where the shore is modified by storm waves and wind erosion.
  • Maritime shrubland
    A shrubland community that occurs on dry seaside bluffs and headlands that are exposed to offshore winds and salt spray.
  • Salt panne
    A shallow depression in a salt marsh where the marsh is poorly drained. Pannes occur in both low and high salt marshes. Pannes in low salt marshes usually lack vegetation, and the substrate is a soft, silty mud. Pannes in a high salt marsh are irregularly flooded by spring tides or flood tides, but the water does not drain into tidal creeks. After a panne has been flooded the standing water evaporates and the salinity of the soil water is raised well above the salinity of sea-water.

Associated Species [-]
  • Great Egret (Ardea alba)
  • Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
  • Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)
  • Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea)
  • Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)
  • American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)
  • Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
  • Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla)
  • Great Black-Backed Gull (Larus marinus)
  • Yellow-Crowned Night-Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
  • Black-Crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
  • Double-Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
  • Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
  • Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger)
  • Least Tern (Sterna antillarum)
  • Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
  • Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri)
  • Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)