If you’ve been out to Pigeon Key before, you may have seen one of our fellow “residents” on the island… Edgar! He is a beloved Great White Heron. His left foot is misshapen (unknown why/how), but he can still walk and fly perfectly. He first visited the island a few years ago and has been around ever since.

Great White Herons are the largest herons in North America, with fully grown herons typically having a wingspan ranging from 6 to 7 feet and standing around 3 to 4 feet tall (meaning Edgar is taller than some of our students/summer campers!). Often mistaken for great egrets, great white herons have quite a few distinguishing characteristics. If you ever see Edgar around the island, you’ll see the beautiful white plumage on the back of his head, which looks like a long single feather sticking out. In contrast, great egrets don’t have such a long plumage, and they also have much darker legs.

While we’ve never seen any mating displays or other great white herons hanging around Edgar to indicate his sex, we have always assumed Edgar is a male. During the breeding season, Great White Herons engage in elaborate courtship displays to attract mates. These displays often involve elaborate rituals such as aerial maneuvers, stretching of necks, and mutual preening (which looks like they are cleaning their feathers with their beaks/shoulders).

The lifespan of Great White Herons is around 15 years, so we hope our beloved Edgar is around for a while!

(As a friendly reminder, Edgar is a wild bird, and should be treated respectfully)