Thursday, July 1, 2010

Cattle Egret

A Cattle Egret photographed in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
A Cattle Egret photographed in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka

The Cattle Egret, is widespreadspecies belonging to the Heron family.  It is found throughout most of the tropics, sub tropics and warmer temperate regions of the world. This is the smallest of the Egrets found in Sri Lanka and is common in the lowlands and the mid hills of Sri Lanka. I saw these birds throughout the dry zone when travelling to Anuradhapura and Trincomalee. These birds can also be seen in and around Colombo.

The Cattle Egret can be differentiated from other Egrets by its size, its stocky build and its rounded head. It also has black legs and feet. It also has a shorter and broader-based yellow beak when compared to other Egrets. During the breeding season its bill may become darker and its mantle turns a golden-buff. 

A Cattle Egret photographed in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
A Cattle Egret photographed in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

The Cattle Egret breeds in colonies in trees which are often, but not always close to large lakes with reed beds or other large wetland areas. They are often seen around the tanks and paddy fields in Sri Lanka. The Cattle Egret is generally considered to be a successful species with an expanding range. Its range was originally limited to Asia, Africa and Europe but it has now colonised much much of the rest of the world. 

A Cattle Egret photographed in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka
A Cattle Egret photographed in Battaramulla, Sri Lanka

It feeds in shallow water or drier habitats, mainly feeding on frogs, fish, crickets and, in some cases moths and spiders. It hunts by spearing its prey with its sharp long beak. It stays still and allows its prey to come within striking distance. It is often thought that these birds feed on parasites of buffaloes as they are often found in close proximity of each other. In actual fact the Great Egrets feed on grasshoppers and other insects which are disturbed when buffaloes move around. They are also known to follow farm machinery for the same reason but are forced to move more frequently.

A Cattle Egret photographed in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
A Cattle Egret photographed in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

These images were captured in Anuradhapura and Battaramulla. I used a Canon 7D and a 100-400mm lens for all them. 

* I had made a mistake earlier and identified this bird as a Great Egret. Thanks to Amila Salgado for pointing it out.


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