Australian Bush Birds
Cattle Egret  -  Ardea ibis
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret in breeding plumage with reddish bill and orange-brown head, neck and breast as well as paler brown plumes on the back.
Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret ready to pounce on insects disturbed by the feeding cow; this Egret is commonly seen in the company of cattle and other stock.
map map The Cattle Egret - Ardea ibis - has white plumage overall with a rounded forehead; there are more feathers under the lower mandible than in other egrets. Long bill is yellow, orange-yellow or pinkish-yellow; skin between eye and bill also orange-yellow. Legs greenish-grey. Reaches 70 centimetres in length.

In breeding plumage, between August and May, a flush of orange-brown appears on the head and neck and long, loose brown plumes grow from the head.

A highly sociable bird which gathers in small groups to large flocks. Flies with rapid wingbeats; in flight the feet extend beyond the tail tip and the head is drawn back. Roosts communally in trees and on the ground. Frequently found in company with cattle and other grazing stock.

Lives in pasture, especially with tall grass, and the shallows of fresh-water wetlands.

Cattle Egret - page 2
Common in Northern Australia, less common in the south but population is expanding.

Cattle Egret Cattle Egret
Left. Head and neck of a breeding Cattle Egret (Bellbowrie, nr Brisbane, Qld).
Right. Rounded forehead and orange-yellow beak of Cattle Egret in non-breeding plumage. (Casino, NSW)
Cattle Egret Cattle Egret
Left. Sociable Cattle Egrets are rarely seen alone, often gathering in flocks. In flight, this species is characterised by trailing legs, drawn back head, long orange-yellow beak and white feathers. (Casino, NSW)
Right. Cattle Egrets settling to roost in paperbark trees for the night. These birds were part of flock of more than 100 birds roosting together. (Casino, NSW)
Cattle Egreta
Cattle Egrets often gather in large groups. (Lismore, NSW)