The Cattle Egret
An article by Twitcher Dave with The Voice Fuerteventura
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
The cattle egret is a cosmopolitan and stocky species of heron found in the tropics and warm temperate zones. It is a white bird with an 88–96 cm wingspan; it is 46–56 cm long and weighs 270–512 g. It has a relatively short thick neck, a sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. The non-breeding adult has mainly white plumage, a yellow bill and greyish-yellow legs. During the breeding season, adults develop orange-buff plumes on the back, breast and crown, and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a brief period prior to pairing. The sexes are similar, but the male is marginally larger and has slightly longer breeding plumes than the female.
The nest is a small untidy platform of sticks in a tree or shrub, constructed by both parents. Sticks are collected by the male and arranged by the female, and stick-stealing is rife. The clutch size can be anywhere from one to five eggs and it nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The adult has few predators but birds or mammals may raid its nests and chicks may be lost to starvation, calcium deficiency or disturbance from other large birds.
Their feeding habitats include seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands and rice paddies. They particularly like insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, flies, maggots, and moths, as well as spiders, frogs, and earthworms. They also often accompany cattle or large mammals and remove ticks and flies from them. This benefits both species, but it has been implicated in the spread of tick-borne animal diseases. Some populations of the egret are migratory and others show post-breeding dispersal. Due to increased farming and more cattle, the cattle egret has undergone one of the most rapid and wide reaching natural expansions of any bird species and can be found on many parts of Fuerteventura, especially in the Southern parts of the island. However I took this photo near Salinas, in Caleta De Fuste.
(Please see bird watching areas 4 and 8 on The Voice map for their locations or CLICK HERE to be redirected the map pages)
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