If you have ever been to South Asia, especially India, you may find slender white birds sitting on top of cattle. This is usually a bird from the egret family that can help out the other animal by feeding on its ticks. Here, we are going to talk about the little egret or the Egretta garzetta. This bird is easily distinguishable by its all-white plumage and its long black legs which are contrasted with its yellow feet. The long bill of this bird helps it to easily fish in shallow water. This bird species was mainly found in Asia and Africa, but it was supposedly introduced to Europe in the 19th century. This bird only reached North America in the 20th century and is mostly concentrated around the Atlantic coast. Once, the feathers of this bird were extensively used to make hats but this practice has since been banned.
Fish, mammals, small birds, crustaceans, and insects
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
12-19.4 oz (350-550 g)
How long are they?
21.6-25.5 in (55-65 cm)
How tall are they?
What do they look like?
What are their main threats?
Bald eagles and humans
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Water bodies, marshes, flooded land, rice fields, mangroves, sandy beaches, and reefs
Little Egret Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a little egret?
Little egret (Egretta garzetta) belongs to the heron group of birds.
What class of animal does a little egret belong to?
The little egret (Egretta garzetta) belongs to the class Mammalia and to the genus Egretta.
How many little egrets are there in the world?
According to reports from the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, the total population of little egrets is around 660,000 to 3,150,000 individuals. The European population is estimated to be around 66,700 to 84,800 breeding pairs.
Where does a little egret live?
There are three subspecies of little egrets and these birds are present all over the world. These birds are mostly found in different areas of Asia, Africa, North Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and even in the United States and the Caribbean. The subspecies from the east have also been found in New Guinea and Indonesia. The introduction of this bird species to North America was mainly during the 20th century. In the United States, this bird is mainly seen on the Atlantic coast and in the United Kingdom, little egrets can be found on the south and east coasts.
What is a little egret's habitat?
A little egret prefers open habitats that are near water. cCommon habitats include shores of canals, lakes, rivers, ponds, lagoons, marshes, as well as rice fields, mangroves, reefs, and sandy beaches. In India, little egrets can often be spotted on grazing cattle or on other animals.
Who do little egrets live with?
As social birds, little egrets live in small groups and these birds even form breeding colonies. During their breeding season, mating pairs are formed and the species is monogamous in nature.
How long does a little egret live?
The lifespan of a little egret is around five to 20 years.
How do they reproduce?
One of the distinctive things about little egrets is the long plumes that the bird grows during its breeding season. These long white plumes are especially noticeable on the breast and neck of the bird. March to September are the months when the little egret population of India starts to breed. However, its breeding season may change according to the location of its population. In Europe, these birds breed from March to July.
Mating and courtship of adult little egret birds include a physical and vocal display. A female lays eggs that are pale green to pale blue in nature. The clutch contains one to six eggs. It takes 21 to 25 days for the eggs to hatch and both parents incubate the eggs. Parents take care of their chicks for 15 days and the chicks grow rapidly. It takes a chick 35 to 50 days to fully leave the nest.
What is their conservation status?
The current conservation status of this bird is stated as Least Concern by the International Union For Conservation Of Nature's Red List.
Little Egret Fun Facts
What do little egrets look like?
The first thing that you will easily notice about a little egret is its white feathers. The distinct white plumage of this bird is quite beautiful. You may also notice its gorgeous neck and chest plumes if you happen to see a little egret during its breeding season. Mature birds generally grow two plumes on their nape that look like a crest. Young chicks often have darker feathers compared to adult birds. This bird has a long neck along with a slender upright body.
Another distinctive feature of egrets is their dark black legs and their yellow feet. Lighter or darker feet can also be seen. The feet of juveniles can often be a dark green color rather than black. The bills are usually long and dark. A black bill is common in white birds, butometimes a brown or yellow bill can also be seen. The long bill also has a slight curvature to help it catch fish. An egret might also have a little bit of bare skin on its lower mandible. The yellow color of this avian species is also seen on the rim of the bird's eyes. The lores of this bird are dark and it continues to form the beautiful long bill. However, the lores may take up a yellow or greenish tinge during their breeding season.
How cute are they?
A little egret (Egretta garzetta) looks adorable and classy at the same time. Their long neck and beautiful long legs, along with their plumes, make these birds long and elegant.
How do they communicate?
Little egrets aren't very keen on vocalizing except during their breeding season. However, these birds do make calls which are described as croaking or bubbling calls. The birds can even produce a sharp alarm call for times when it feels threatened. This bird predominantly uses the 'kark' and 'kre' calls for communication. 'Dow' and 'po' calls are also observed.
How big is a little egret?
The average size of a little egret is 21.6-25.5 in (55-65 cm). It is described as a small white egret as this species is smaller than other egrets. Little egrets are similar in size to snowy egrets that grow to an average length of 22.1-26.0 in (56-66 cm).
How fast can a little egret fly?
Little egrets are described as wading birds as the species has a habit of hunting in shallow water. This bird has long black legs and yellow feet which allows it to easily wade through water. The average flying speed of little egret birds is around 25 mph (40 kph).
How much does a little egret weigh?
The average weight of the little egret species is around 12-19.4 oz (350-550 g).
What are their male and female names of the species?
There are no distinct names for males and females of this species.
What would you call a baby little egret?
A baby little egret is known as a 'chick'.
What do they eat?
Little egrets are carnivores and their main food source is small fish. The bird chooses its habitat according to the amount of prey in the area. You can often find these birds running around shallow water in search of fish or other aquatic prey. The bird can also sustain ticks that it gathers while sitting on livestock. Some other food sources in this bird's diet include amphibians, small mammals, small birds, crustaceans, reptiles, insects, mollusks, and worms.
Are they aggressive?
No, little egrets aren't really aggressive. Males can be a little competitive during the breeding season. Other than that, these birds are quite friendly and sociable with their peers.
Would they make a good pet?
No, you cannot make a little egret your pet as it is a wild bird and it is illegal to keep them as pets.
Did you know...
Little egrets living in South Australia breed during November to January, and those living in North Australia breed between January and March.
How many eggs do little egrets lay?
Little egrets lay anywhere around one to six eggs. Most females will lay an average of five eggs in a single brood. These eggs are pale blue or green in color.
What is the difference between little egrets and snowy egrets?
Snowy egrets and little egrets are often compared with each other. However, there are some moderately subtle differences between the two bird species. The first difference between these birds has to be their weight. Little egrets are generally 3.5 oz (100 g) heavier than snowy egrets. During breeding, the lores of little egrets are yellow or greenish in appearance, whereas the lores of snowy egrets are orange or red. Moreover, snowy egrets are mainly found in North America while little egrets hail from Asia and Africa and have only recently been introduced to America.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including glaucous gull, or laughing gull.
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