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Typically-tropical great egret nests in Finland for first time

Sightings of great egrets have been reported for decades, but sightings this summer confirm the first time the species has nested in Finland.

Jalohaikara vedessä.
A great egret in Germany Image: AOP

The bird conservation organisation BirdLife Finland reports the first successful nesting of a great egret in Finland. It says that a pair of great egrets raised four healthy chicks that left the nest last week in the southern city of Porvoo.

The egret couple infiltrated a community of grey herons for protection during their nesting period, according to the birdwatching group. The female wore a ring on her leg with markings indicating she was born in Holland two years ago.

Great egrets are very similar to grey herons, but they are set apart by their white plumage.

The very first great egret to be spotted in Finland arrived in the country on May Day in 1966. However, the bird remained a rarity here until the early 1990s, when birdwatchers began recording annual visitors. In the last few years, hundreds of sightings have been noted in the summer months. For this reason, BirdLife said an attempt to nest here was to be expected eventually.

Another great egret couple tried to found a second breeding site in the company of grey herons in the southern city of Vihti this summer, but gave up their efforts before the nest was completed.

Great egrets build nests up to one-metre wide made of sticks and plant material, and lay up to six bluish-green eggs at a time. Both parents incubate the eggs for three or four weeks, and the young are ready to fly within six to seven weeks.

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