Abstract The European breeding and non-breeding populations of the Great White Egret Ardea alba have increased dramatically since 1980. During this period the breeding range has expanded to the north and west, and the species has nested for the first time in 13 countries, including Sweden and England. Since 2000 there has also been a substantial increase in the wintering populations in western and central Europe, where the species formerly wintered in small numbers or only occasionally, with flocks of several hundred individuals reported from some countries. Changes in the availability of foraging habitat and food, the cessation of persecution and related human-induced mortality, improved legal protection, and climate change have probably all played a part in the patterns described here.
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