Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis




Bitterns, Herons and Egrets (Ardeidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Pale blue or light blue green.

Number of Eggs:

1 - 9

Incubation Days:

22 - 28

Egg Incubator:

Both sexes

Nest Location:

In trees or shrubs.

Nest Material:

Sticks and reeds.





Cattle Egret: Small, short-necked and stocky egret with white body and pale orange-brown patches on head, neck and back. Eyes, bill and legs are orange. Sexes are similar. Breeding plumes are slightly shorter on the female. Breeding birds' legs are yellow-green and irises are dark yellow. During peak breeding season, bill, legs and irises turn a bright red. Winter adult and juvenile are white and with dull yellow-orange eyes and bill. Juveniles' legs are black. Races separated by the amount and intensity of the orange-brown patches.

Range and Habitat

Cattle Egret: Found in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. This bird has not always been found across all these regions; it is believed to have originated in central Africa and then spread to many other parts of the world during the 19th century. Found in open, grassy areas, such as pastures, meadows, marshes, flood plains and swamps.

Breeding and Nesting

Cattle Egret: They are colonial nesters, nesting with other egrets and herons in trees. Both of the adults build the nest out of sticks and vegetation, unless they are reusing an old nest. One to nine pale blue or blue green eggs are laid in the nest. Eggs are incubated for approximately 24 days by both parents. The chicks hatch in three to four weeks, and fledge when they are a month old.

Foraging and Feeding

Cattle Egret: Their broad diet varies greatly by habitat and season. They mostly eat grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, flies, frogs and noctuid moths. Food items consumed in especially large numbers are wolf or ground spiders and frogs. Fish are taken in shallow water during the dry season. They generally forage in close association with grazing cattle, feeding on insects disturbed by grazing.


Cattle Egret: Generally silent but emits a simple, husky, quiet "rick-rack" on breeding grounds.

Similar Species

Cattle Egret: Snowy Egret has a black bill and yellow feet. Great Egret is much larger and has a longer neck. Juvenile Little Blue Heron has greenish legs and a dark bill.

Large, conspicuous, showy feathers.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X