Characteristics and Behavior:
Cattle Egrets are medium-sized wading birds with a stocky build, short legs, and a relatively short, thick bill. Their plumage is predominantly white, and during the breeding season, they develop striking orange-buff plumes on their head, neck, and back. They are often seen foraging near grazing livestock, capturing insects disturbed by the animals.
- Cattle Egrets are highly adaptable and can be found in a wide range of habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, pastures, and agricultural fields.
- They have a near-global distribution, found in regions across Africa, Asia, the Americas, and parts of Europe and Australia.
- The average lifespan of Cattle Egrets is around 2 to 3 years, although some individuals can live longer.
- They are colonial nesters, often breeding in large, noisy colonies in trees or shrubs. Nests are constructed from sticks and lined with softer materials.
- Breeding can occur year-round in some regions, and both parents share in incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.
- Symbiotic Relationship: Cattle Egrets have a mutualistic relationship with large grazing animals. They forage for insects, ticks, and other small prey stirred up by the livestock's movements, benefiting both species.
- Insect Hunters: While they primarily feed on insects and other invertebrates, Cattle Egrets are opportunistic foragers and will also consume small vertebrates and plant material when available.
- Migratory Behavior: In many parts of their range, Cattle Egrets exhibit migratory movements in response to changing weather and food availability, making them highly adaptable to different conditions.