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Cattle Egret

From Opus

Complete breeding plumage, including short lived changes in bill and leg colors in high breedingSubspecies B. i. coromandus; in a Mixed HeronryPhoto © by Alok TewariKeoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India, July-2015
Complete breeding plumage, including short lived changes in bill and leg colors in high breeding
Subspecies B. i. coromandus; in a Mixed Heronry
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, Rajasthan, India, July-2015
Bubulcus ibis

Ardea ibis


[edit] Identification

Length 46–56 cm (18-22 in), wingspan about 90-96 cm (nominate race). The Cattle Egret has a compact build with white plumage, yellow bill, and mostly yellow legs. One characteristic feature is the short stubby bill with obvious feathering extending out along the lower mandible to the mid point.

When breeding, buff plumes develop on the crown and lower back, and parts of the breast also develop buff tones (or in some birds, more rusty-brown). In high breeding, bill and legs become reddish; however, this is held much shorter than the plumage.

Females in winter plumage lack extended throat feathers seen in the male, but otherwise, the sexes are similar.

Juvenile birds have a greyish-black wash to bill and legs.

[edit] Distribution

Winter plumaged Cattle Egret landing on a steerPhoto © by HelenBLocation: Southeast Texas, USA
Winter plumaged Cattle Egret landing on a steer
Photo © by HelenB
Location: Southeast Texas, USA

Cattle egret is found almost around the globe in tropical, subtropical, and warmer temperate areas.
Occurs widely in sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Sudan and south to South Africa including Madagascar and the Seychelles. Also breeds in north-west Africa, Iberia and parts of southern France.

Has recently has begun breeding in the Canary Islands, and in western, central and northern France, Belgium, on Sardinia and around the eastern Mediterranean in Turkey, the Middle East and Egypt. Small numbers breed in the Volga Delta of Russia.

In Asia breeds throughout the Indian Subcontinent east to China and southern Japan and south to Indonesia, New Guinea and throughout Australia except the most arid interior.

Also widespread in the Americas. In North America occurs from south-east Canada south to Florida and the Gulf Coast and in the west breeds in California and Utah and regularly occurs north to British Columbia during post-breeding dispersal.

Found throughout Mexico, Central America and the West Indies and in South America extends south to northern Argentina.

Subspecies coromandus Photo © by mohan matangKutch, Gujara, India, July 2010
Subspecies coromandus
Photo © by mohan matang
Kutch, Gujara, India, July 2010

Recorded as a vagrant in most European countries where not regular, north to Iceland, Scandinavia and Poland, and also in the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands but some reports may involve escapes. British records, (c.120), widely scattered from Sicilly north to Shetland and throughout the year. Has bred in the Canaries and Cape Verde Islands and the first breeding for the Balearic Islands was recorded on Mallorca in 1997.

A native of Africa and Asia, the Cattle Egret found its own way to the Americas, arriving in the northeast of South America in 1877. It first arrived the USA in 1941 and nesting was noted in 1953. During the next 50 years its population expanded, making it one of the most numerous North American herons.

[edit] Taxonomy

Some resources place this species in genus Ardea

[edit] Subspecies

Subspecies coromandus Photo © by MzunguLake Galletly Gatton Campus, Queensland, November 2017
Subspecies coromandus
Photo © by Mzungu
Lake Galletly Gatton Campus, Queensland, November 2017

There are 3 subspecies[1]:

  • B. i. ibis:
  • B. i. coromandus: stronger golden breeding plumage - sometimes split as Eastern Cattle Egret
  • B. i. seychellarum:

seychellarum isn't recognised by all authors instead included in the nominate subspecies.

[edit] Habitat

Freshwater margins and open grasslands. Often associates with cattle and other livestock; and also wild ungulates, frequently close to human habitation. Breeds colonially in trees, usually close to water but often seen far from water at other seasons.

Breeding plumaged Cattle EgretPhot © by FabLocation: South Florida, USA
Breeding plumaged Cattle Egret
Phot © by Fab
Location: South Florida, USA

[edit] Behaviour

Many populations are dispersive and undergo rather random movements, while others are more strongly migratory.

[edit] Diet

The Cattle Egret’s feeding grounds are usually under 20km from roost site. Typically hunts by walking steadily and stabbing at prey. It feeds on insects, especially grasshoppers, locusts and beetles.

[edit] Breeding

Colonial nester, usually with other waterbirds. Nest are built from collected or stolen (from other nests) dry sticks, weed stems and reeds; occasionally lined with grass.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] Gallery

Click images to see larger version

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Beaman, M., S. Madge, K.M. Olsen. 1998. Fuglene i Europa, Nordafrika og Mellemøsten. Copenhagen, Denmark: Gads Forlag, ISBN 87-12-02276-4

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