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Cattle Egret

Fact File

Continent: Africa, Asia, Americas, Europe
Habitat: Wetlands, water bodies, fields
Weight and Height: 0.2kg, 0.5m
Diet: Carnivore
Incubation: 22 days
Number of Young: 3 eggs


Conservation Status: LC


  • They are often found near livestock, as they feed on the insects kicked up by their movement.
  • Parents may accept other cattle egret chicks if they are less than 2 weeks old.
  • They are very migratory, and have colonised several continents.
  • The spread of livestock has resulted in a spread of cattle egrets.
  • Their eggs are a blue colour and pale with age.
  • Is mostly silent but will make a quiet “rick-rack” call within the breeding colony.

Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis

Animals — Aves (birds) — Pelecaniformes (pelican & relatives) — Ardeidae

Cattle Egrets are a species of heron found across many countries of the world, particularly the southern hemisphere. They are most closely related to the “Ardea” family of herons which includes the grey heron. They are white, with brown-cream sections during the breeding season.

They are social birds that nest in colonies with many other cattle egrets. Rarely, female cattle egrets will lay eggs in others’ nests, or even those of other species such as the little blue heron. It is also thought perhaps 30% of pairs are not faithful, with “extra-pair copulations”. Due to these facts occasionally chicks may not be related to one, or rarely both, of the parents raising them.

Habitat: From fresh water and brackish areas, dry fields and dumps to mangrove swamps and lake islands.

Vital Statistics: 
–Average weight: 0.2kg
–Average height: 0.5m

Life Expectancy:
In the wild up to: 23 years
In captivity up to: unknown

Diet: Carnivore. Mostly eat small insects, small mammals and frogs.

Distribution: Found in many countries, from parts of the USA to much of South America and mid to southern Africa, and parts of Asia and southern Europe.