(Bubulcus ibis)

FUN FACT

Without human assistance, this world-traveling species has colonized three continents in just the last hundred years.

Cattle Egrets are named for their habit of stalking insects and other small prey disturbed by herds of cattle moving through and grazing in grassland habitats.

 

Distribution

Cosmopolitan

Habitat

Shallow water, but also open fields and other dry, grassy areas.

Diet

Mainly insects, especially locusts, grasshoppers, and crickets; also spiders, frogs, tadpoles, crustaceans, molluscs, fish, lizards, snakes, small birds and rodents. Active feeder, frequently following cattle, large mammals (e.g. buffalos, zebra, elephants, rhinoceros, giraffes, larger antelopes, deer, capybaras, and camels feeding on flushed prey; in developed areas, also will follow tractors and grass trimmers.

Breeding

Nests colonially (including dozens to hundreds of pairs), often with other species of herons, storks, ibises, and cormorants. Nests usually built in reed beds, bushes or trees, up to 20 m off ground, and not necessarily near water; nest constructed of reeds, leafy twigs and branches; sometimes of tens of nests in single tree. Lays 2–5 white eggs tinged with pale green or pale blue; incubation by both sexes for 21–26 days, with chicks hatching asynchronously. Young fledge in c. 30 days, but may leave the nest after only 1-2 weeks

Status

Not Under Threat (Least Concern)

At the Aviary

See Cattle Egrets in our Tropical Rainforest.