Cattle Egret

A Cattle Egret walking on grass

Non-breeding plumage

A Pair of Cattle Egrets in breeding plumage, standing on a nest

Breeding pair on a nest

Scientific Name: Bubulcus coromandus

Size: 45 to 55 cm

What does it look like?

Smallest of the Australian egrets, the Cattle Egret should not be confused with the larger Intermediate Egret, which occasionally occupies similar habitat. Both species have a yellow bill (unlike the Little Egret, which has a predominantly black bill). The Cattle Egret walks with a very obvious back-and-forth head movement. For most of the year it has almost entirely white plumage but, during the breeding season (October to January), it is distinguished by long, dark plumes on the head, neck, breast and mantle.

Where is it found?

Occurs in higher rainfall areas throughout Australia (including Tasmania) and further north into New Guinea and Indonesia.

What are its habitats & habits?

It is commonly seen in small flocks within grasslands, opportunistically feeding on grasshoppers and other insects that are disturbed by grazing cattle.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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