April 13, 2016 – Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Originally found in Africa, Europe, and Asia, these egrets arrived in South America around 1877. They spread to the United States in the 1940s and early ‘50s, becoming common there during the next 50 years and reaching as far north as Alaska and Newfoundland. They have also spread to Australia and are now found all over the world. Their varied diet includes insects and other invertebrates, as well as small vertebrates such as fish, frogs, mammals, and other birds. They often follow large animals and machines to catch the insects disturbed by their movement and are also attracted by smoke, catching insects as they escape from fires. Males choose the nesting location and bring materials to females, who do most of the construction. They build messy shallow bowls of sticks and twigs, lined with soft plant materials, nesting in dense colonies. Both parents feed the chicks.