The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a type of heron, rather than a true egret in the genus Egretta. It is native to Asia, Africa, and Europe. It is related to ibis. The term bubulcus means herdsmen (cattle men).
It is a white bird with orange-buff feathers and red legs and beak when it is breeding. When it is not breeding it is white with a yellow beak and grey legs. It is stocky with a short neck, so that it looks hunched. It has a height of 46-56 centimetres (18-22 inches) and a wingspan of 88-96 centimetres (35-38 inches).
It likes to be near cattle and other large mammals, such as buffalo, to catch insects that live near the cattle. The cattle egret removes ticks and fleas from cattle.
The Cattle Egret is nocturnal (active at night) or crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk). It feeds on insects, reptiles and small animals in and near shallow water, such as grasshoppers, crickets, flies, moths, spiders, frogs, and earthworms.
It nests in colonies near water. Their untidy nest is made of sticks in trees or shrubs. Female Cattle Heron lay 1-5 pale bluish-white oval eggs. They sit on the eggs for about 23 days before the chicks hatch. Chicks are born without feathers and become fully feathered in 13-21 days.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM