The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) is a small, common egret found in Asia, Africa, Europe, Indonesia, Australia, and New Zealand. It is a member of the heron family.
The African Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta) is found in the wetlands of tropical eastern and southern Africa.
The African Little Egret has all white feathers, and a long, thin, black beak. It has black legs and yellow-soled feet. In the breeding season, it has two long plumes (feathers) on the nape (neck) that form a crest. These plumes are about 15 centimetres (6 inches) long, and are pointed and very narrow.
It grows to 65 centimetres (26 inches) tall, with a wingspan up to 106 centimetres (42 inches).
It flys slowly, with its neck retracted into an S-shape (not out-stretched). Storks, cranes, spoonbills, and ibises fly with their necks out-stretched, but egrets, herons, and bitterns fly with their heads retracted into their neck.
It is a wetland bird. It is a wading bird – a wader. The African Little Egret likes habitats such as lakes, rivers, canals, ponds, lagoons, marshes and floodplains. It also likes mangrove areas, swamps, mudflats, sandy beaches, reefs, and rice fields.
The African Little Egret lives feeds in shallow water on fish, frogs, crabs, worms, small reptiles, and insects. It stalks its prey in shallow water, often running with raised wings or it may stand still and wait to ambush their prey. On land, it walks or runs while chasing its prey.
The African Little Egret lives in colonies. Pairs mate for life. Females lay 3-5 blue-green eggs in a stick nest made by the male. Both parents sit on the eggs for 21-25 days before they hatch. Both parents feed the chicks. The chicks can fly after about 6 weeks.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM