Cattle Egret

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.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

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.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Wilson's Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope

To view the full gallery of images, please click here.

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About admin

Window to Wildlife features the photography of Jim Edlhuber. A lifelong native of Wisconsin, Jim has been photographing wildlife for 20 years. He considers himself an avid photographer and is always trying to capture nature and wildlife through his lens. He is in several photography clubs and has won numerous awards for his work. In recent years, Jim has focused mostly on birding photography and finds it to be the most challenging.

5 Responses to Cattle Egret

  1. love the shot of the egret with the close-up black cow head!

  2. Elaine says:

    Egrets – so elegant in form, posture, and carriage. The soft peach feathers on the crown, breast, and back add even more beauty to these birds. Place them beside the lumbering bovine, and the contrast is compelling. The closeup is outstanding, Jim. Thanks for making that trip to Horicon – and going around until the stage was set!

  3. Nancy Nabak says:

    Again, you amaze. LOVE your compositions and preciseness. Brilliant work. : )

  4. Nancy Nabak says:

    Seriously Jim, as I look at these again, I think they are the nicest looking Cattle egrets with your color captures. Wicked.

  5. Michael J. matusinec says:

    Great captures Jim.

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