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Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis


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Cattle Egret, breeding
credit: Rick Kimpel/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Ardeidae, Herons, Egrets, Bitterns view all from this family

Description ADULT Has pure white plumage for much of year but at height of breeding season it becomes flushed yellowish buff on crown, breast, and back. Bill is yellow for most of year, turning orange-red in breeding season; legs are dark for most of year but turn orange-yellow during breeding season. juvenile Similar to nonbreeding adult.

Dimensions Length: 20" (51 cm)

Habitat Originates from Old World and is a relatively recent arrival to our region; first noted in South America (presumably from Africa) and reached Florida in mid 20th century. Now a widespread resident in coastal districts in southeast, favoring grassland and wetlands; from spring to fall, also occurs inland during summer breeding season.

Observation Tips Usually found in drier habitats than other egret species.

Range Southwest, Rocky Mountains, California, Texas, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, New England, Northwest, Southeast, Florida, Plains

Voice Mainly silent.

Discussion Stocky, mainly white heron-like bird with a proportionately large head and bulbous throat. Gregarious and often associates with grazing livestock, chasing after insects and other prey disturbed by feeding animals. Sexes are similar but breeding adults are more colorful than nonbreeding and immatures.