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LifeTrack: Great Egrets

We're following the movements and migration of great egrets tagged in eastern North Carolina, USA. Click the "Show map" button to see a map of recent locations. Click on a point along a track to see which egret it is, and when and where the GPS recorded a location. Read more about the LifeTrack projects here.


Teacher Resources

The first LifeTrack-Great Egrets teacher workshop was sponsored by the Reese Institute for Conservation of Natural Resources (at Lenoir-Rhyne University) on 1 July 2013.  Attached are lesson ideas generated by the teachers who attended. The ideas are classified by the following disciplines: Biology, Dance, Earth Science, English, Environmental Science, Geography, Math, Music, Physics, Social Studies, and Technology. If you have further questions contact John Brzorad at

Egrets on the Move; Post-Breeding Dispersal

At this time of year, when feeding young is drawing to a close, egrets will often drift away from their breeding colonies. Mr. Bisbing has drifted south to the Bonner Bridge area, Mr. Kelley is drifting north along the Niagara River and Mr. Newbern has taken a trip up to Reed Island (north of Elizabeth City).  Chick 2692 has proven he (probably, maybe she) has the ability to fly from N. Pelican Island in the Cape Fear Estuary to near Topsail Island.

Juvenile Egrets and Exploratory Flight

We have added two young nestling egrets to our study, giving both GPS tags.  This is risky because juveniles have a low survival rate in their first few months of life, especially once they start flying and migrating.  So we are a bit axious about what story these tags will tell about their lives, but very interested nontheless.  

Sex Determination in Birds (in our case; egrets)

Dr. David Shealer at Loras College has completed the first round of sexing of our Great Egrets.  Some name changes are in order as 4 or our 5 NC birds are male!

Project Team Heads to the Mid-West

The trapping crew from Lenoir-Rhyne University (Dr. John Brzorad & students Brittany Coursen, Josh Keener and Caitlin Rubow) will trek west to Wichita, Kansas on Thursday, May 16th to join up with fellow egret ecologist Dr.

Lifetrx on local news

Here's a picture of Dr. Kays helping do the local weather report from his lab for WRAL in Raleigh, talking about how weather affects bird migration.  This was the day after MrsPalma left NC and flew north at 60 mph.  The weather expert said there were strong south winds that day, which certainly helped her fly.  The pink flamingo is wearing a tracking tags to show how we attach them. 

Colonies and land-based predators

Large,conspicious birds are hard pressed to conceal their nests so they tend to nest in groups to decrease the chances any individual nest will be predated (the bigger the colony, the smaller the chances your nest will be hit) and put their colonies in hard to reach places for land-based predators.  Mrs. Kelley is roosting (and possibly nesting) in the middle of a raging river above Niagara Falls.  Woe be to the predator that tries to swim out to that island!

Migration of MrsKelley

News on 4/11/2013 from Susan Campbell at Lake Mattamuskeet is that Mrs. Kelley's roost has become depopulated of Great Egrets.

Help us tell the bird's story

Lifetrx is a project where scientists ask you to help us tell the story of migrating birds by following their movements through live tracking tags.  Please help us tell these stories by highilghting interesting movements on the blog page or using the twitter hash tags.  Even better - if you can get out into the field and find the bird, please take a picture and tell us about it (but don't harass the bird).  What habitat was it in? What was it doing?  Was it with other Great Egrets?

From Twitter