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Intermediate Egret - BirdForum Opus

Alternative Name(s): Yellow-billed Egret, Median Egret

Breeding Pair
Photo by Alok Tewari
Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India, July-2015
Ardea intermedia

Mesophoyx intermedia
Egretta intermedia


Photo by rony_roshtov
Yotveta, Israel, November 2004

56–72 cm (22-28 in)

  • Yellow bill (sometimes reddish)
  • Legs black below 'knee'
  • Yellow, grey or reddish above
  • Possibly wisps of fine breast plumes


  • Long filmy, erectile plumes on back and breast
  • Red bill and legs for a short time
  • Pea-green facial skin

Similar Species

Intermediate Egret is smaller, daintier, more graceful than Great Egret: extended head and neck about equal to body length. Head rounder, bill shorter and deeper; line of gape extends to just below eye, Great Egret's extends well past it. Feathered chin of Intermediate extends farther forward along the gonys. The shorter bill also gives Intermediate's head a more triangular look than the attenuated snake-like head of Great Egret.


Photo by bgopal
Bangalore, India, November 2005
Click on image for larger version

A widespread Old World species.
Found throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal to Sudan and south to South Africa but absent from the most arid and densely forested areas.
Also occurs over much of the Indian subcontinent, east to southern China, southern Korea and southern Japan and south to the Philippines. western Borneo, Sumatra and Java. Further east occurs in southern New Guinea and in Australia mainly in the north and east.
Northern Asian birds are migratory, those from Africa merely dispersive.
Recorded as a scarce spring and summer visitor to the Banc D'Arguin in Mauritania, and a vagrant to the Cape Verde Islands, Egypt and at the Dead Sea in Jordan.
In May 2001 the first Intermediate Egret for Europe was recorded in a small wetland close to Rome, Italy, and remained there until August. In Asia vagrants have been recorded north to Sakhalin.
Australian birds may undergo migratory movements and may occur only in New Guinea in winter.
On May 31st, 2006 a dead Intermediate Egret was found on Buldir Island in Alaska's Aleutian Island chain. It constituted the first record for North America.


Which genus this bird belongs to was for a long time not clear, it was placed in Egretta or in Mesophoyx, However, most authorities now agree on Ardea. The Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive now recognizes the three subspecies as full species, Yellow-billed Egret (brachyrhyncha), Intermediate Egret (nominate) and Plumed Egret (plumifera).


There are three recognized subspecies[1]:

  • A. i. intermedia (Asia):
  • Africa south of the Sahara


Freshwaters, including slow-flowing rivers, lakes and swamps, also coastal mudflats and mangroves, sometimes grassland.



Breeds in colonies, often with other species of herons/egrets.


Their diet consists of smaller fish, eels, frogs, snakes and insects.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2015)
  3. BF Member observations

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