• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Western Reef or Little Egret, Eilat North Beach, Israel (13.03. & 20.03.) (1 Viewer)

Maturin

Active member
Here are a few photos of a heron we stumbled across at Eilat North Beach. Pics 1 and 2 are from 13.03. and 3-5 from 20.03. (showing presumably the same bird). At first glance we thought it to be a Little Egret because of the darkness and coloration of its legs and bill although we had some minor reservations regarding the bill and head shape. We showed our pictures to a tour guide from a nearby birding group. He said that the bird is difficult to determine but was leaning towards Little Egret. Other birdwatchers reported a Western Reef Heron on the same day and spot as 'our' bird. Could it be that the bird is a Western Reef Heron (maybe 1st winter/winter plumage) or is it 'just' the ordinary Little Egret?

Thank you in advance,
Olli
 

Attachments

  • egret01.jpg
    egret01.jpg
    380.4 KB · Views: 70
  • egret02.jpg
    egret02.jpg
    392.9 KB · Views: 44
  • egret03.jpg
    egret03.jpg
    287.3 KB · Views: 65
  • egret04.jpg
    egret04.jpg
    315.4 KB · Views: 63
  • egret05.jpg
    egret05.jpg
    259.6 KB · Views: 35
Last edited:

Steve Arlow

Well-known member
United Kingdom
Little Egret, Western Reef tends to be a little larger with deeper based bill and normally have various amounts of dark feathering. This bird was at north beach March 2017
 

Attachments

  • 546E5679-F143-49FF-97A0-AE72E5ADDBA1.jpeg
    546E5679-F143-49FF-97A0-AE72E5ADDBA1.jpeg
    105.3 KB · Views: 55

Maturin

Active member
Little Egret, Western Reef tends to be a little larger with deeper based bill and normally have various amounts of dark feathering. This bird was at north beach March 2017

Thank you for your reply, Steve! Isn't the various amount of dark feathering normally a sign for a juvenile white morph? Wouldn't that only exclude a 1st W? I think the size is a rather difficult attribute too since Western Reef overlaps fully with Little Egret. Even 'big' individuals would be tricky to judge by size when they're only 3 cm bigger and there's no other Egret around for comparison (Svensson says Little Egret L: 55-65, WS: 88-106; Western Reef: L: 55-68, WS: 88-112). But overall your estimation backs our views on this bird.

What about the thickness and curve of the bill?
 

BirdingRob

Brit abroad
Western reef heron for me but this one is tough even though I get lots of practice down here. Yes, the curvature and thickness of the bill are important as is the general robustness of the overall form. Little egret is normally obviously more elegant than the reef egret. Most of your pictures show the bird hunched so its elegance or otherwise is difficult to work out.

Some juvenile western reef egret are mottled but many are not. Adults tend to be either all white or dark. So colour is a red herring.

Nobody really knows how much these birds interbreed but you saw a bird in an area where such birds might occur. So my vote is western reef heron or hybrid.
 
Last edited:
Warning! This thread is more than 4 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.

Users who are viewing this thread

Top