The Cattle Egret is one of my nemesis birds this year. After many miles of driving through areas where Cattle Egrets had been reported, this was my first real chance to photograph one. This time it did not disappoint me. I saw not one bird, but two. They were in a double pasture with cows just northeast of Horicon Marsh on Stumpf Road in Fond du lac County, Wisconsin.
I’ve also included images of some Wilson’s Phalaropes (Phalaropus tricolor) from Horicon Marsh.
Photographs taken July 23, 2013.
Binomial name: Bubulcus ibis
Category: Bitterns, Herons, and Allies
Description: White plumage with cream-colored feathers on its chest, head, and tail during breeding season. Yellow bill and gray legs.
Size: 18”-22” long, 35” – 38” wingspan
Weight: 9.5 oz. – 18 oz.
Habitat: Pastures, grasslands, meadows, and wetlands
Diet: Insects (grasshoppers and crickets), spiders, amphibians, and worms
Nesting: Cattle Egrets nest in colonies, typically near a body of water. Both males and females build the nest; males collect twigs and sticks while the female assembles them into jumbled pile in a tree or shrub. It is common for these birds to steal nest materials from others. The female will lay 1 to 5 eggs and raise 1 brood each season. Both parents incubate the eggs. Chicks are born with down feathers but are still helpless. The fledglings leave the nest after about 45 days.
Notes: Cattle Egrets are appropriately named as they tend to forage for food near cattle or other large, grazing animals. They eat insects and other vertebrates spread by these animals. The birds have also been known to forage behind farm machinery. Farmers may welcome these birds to their pastures as Cattle Egrets will help control fly and tick populations among cattle.
To view the full gallery of images, please click here.