Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis


Cattle Egret
Cattle Egrets, originating in Africa, provide one of the more spectacular examples of geographic dispersion in the avian kingdom,
having spread virtually worldwide since the late 19th Century, including over all of North American since their arrival here in
the 1950s.


Cattle Egret
Though insects provide the largest part of Cattle Egrets' diet, they are extraordinarily adaptive foragers, with prey items including fish, frogs, and as shown above and below, rodents and snakes. When they aren't following livestock, they forage, as in these two captures, "especially around margins of aquatic areas"  (Birds of North America Online).


Cattle Egret
The Cattle Egret took more than a quarter of an hour to subdue and swallow the
snake.


Cattle Egret


Cattle Egret
"Arboreal foraging unusual ... but reported at several locations where vines, shrubs, and trees contain swarms of insects that offer a short-lived but easily obtainable food source" (Birds of North America Online).


Cattle Egret


Cattle Egret


Cattle Egret
About the name: yes, they often forage close to cattle, which facilitate their food acquisition by attracting flies and disturbing other insects in the grass as they graze. A favorite view of the species shows a Cattle Egret perched on the back of a grazing animal, whether cattle, or, in the egrets' original African savanna habitat, water buffaloes and zebras.


Cattle Egret
Above, non-breeding plumage, without the buff breeding plumes.


Cattle Egret
Above, a Cattle Egret carrying a twig to help build a nest. Below, the nest made and the eggs laid, parents taking turns with incubation.

Cattle Egrets