Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, Great Egret: what’s the difference?

What’s the difference between the Little Egret, Intermediate Egret, and Great Egret?

The Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), the Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia or Mesophoyx intermedia), and the Great Egret (Ardea alba melanorhynchos or Casmerodius albus melanorhynchos) have all white plumage (feathers).

The Little Egret has a black beak. The Intermediate Egret has a shorter, thicker yellow beak that may turn red or black in the breeding season.  The Great Egret has a long, thin, yellow beak that may become darker in the breeding season.

The Little Egret does not have a black line underneath its eye. The breeding adult Intermediate Egret has a black line underneath its eye, but it does not extend past the eye. The Great Egret has a fine black line from its beak to beyond its eye (like eye-liner underneath the eye).

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African Little Egret

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.

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Feathers: Are down and powder down the same?

Down feathers are fine fluffy feathers. Baby birds are covered in down feathers. In adult birds the down feathers are found underneath the exterior (outer) feathers.

Down feathers are used as padding or insulators to trap heat and keep the bird warm. That’s why baby birds are covered in down feathers. Down feathers are used in pillows and sleeping bags.

Powder down is called or pulviplumes. Pulvi means dust and plumes means feathers – so pulviplume means feather dust.

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