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Living in America, Africa, Europe and South Asia

A wader with changing plumage

The cattle egret is a wader that has breeding plumage and winter plumage. During the breeding period, it displays orange-buff feathers on its head, back and breast. It has a yellow bill and reddish legs. Between these two periods, the male moults its plumage completely in the autumn.

Cattle egrets are found in America, Africa, Europe and South Asia.

Sociable in nature, this heron species nests in trees and shrubs in colonies of between 10 and several thousand individuals near lakes and ponds. The female is the architect when it comes to building the nest, while the male is responsible for collecting the necessary materials. When either partner returns to the nest, they raise the feathers along their back and flatten those on their head in ceremony. The male and female take turns brooding. Their offspring are altricial and are unable to fly until 30 days old, although after 14 to 21 days they are able to climb into the neighbouring branches around the nest. Cattle egrets often look for food in groups around herds of cattle, from which they remove bothersome insects, thus giving them their name.

  • Habitat

    Wetlands, steppes and grassland.

  • Food

    Insects and small vertebrates.

Did you know ?

Cattle egrets fly in groups in unstructured formations, in contrast to other waders, known for their strict alignment.

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