Little egret

During breeding, they transform with elegant white plumage, adorned by decorative plumes on the head, neck, and back

A small, agile heron that graces wetlands, rivers, and lakes across a wide geographical range that includes much of Africa, Asia, and Europe. This bird is notable for its pristine white plumage, contrasting black legs and bill, and strikingly yellow feet that seem to glow against the muddy waters of its feeding grounds.

The Little Egret is a master hunter, using its long, sharp bill to spear prey with remarkable accuracy. Its diet consists of a variety of aquatic animals, including fish, amphibians, small reptiles, crustaceans, and insects. The egret’s hunting strategy is versatile, sometimes standing still and waiting for prey to come near, other times moving through the water with stealthy grace, creating disturbances to flush out hidden prey.

During the breeding season, the Little Egret is particularly stunning, adorned with elegant nuptial plumes on the back, which it uses to attract a mate. These long, wispy feathers were once in high demand as decorations for hats, leading to a dramatic decline in egret populations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Conservation efforts, including legal protections, have since helped their numbers recover.

Little Egrets nest in colonies, often with other heron species, in large trees or reed beds close to water bodies. The construction of the nest is a cooperative effort between mates, using sticks and reeds to form a sturdy platform. Both parents participate in incubating the eggs and feeding the hatchlings.

The bird’s role in the ecosystem is significant as it helps control populations of various aquatic species, which might otherwise reach pest proportions. Their presence also indicates a healthy environment, as egrets tend to thrive in clean and productive wetlands.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Afghanistan
2016
Passage
Albania
2016
Algeria
2016
Angola
2016
Anguilla
2016
Vagrant
Antigua & Barbuda
2016
Armenia
2016
Aruba
2016
Non-Breeding
Australia
2016
Breeding
Austria
2016
Breeding
Azerbaijan
2016
Bahrain
2016
Bangladesh
2016
Barbados
2016
Belgium
2016
Breeding
Benin
2016
Bhutan
2016
Bosnia And Herz.
2016
Breeding
Botswana
2016
Brunei
2016
Bulgaria
2016
Burkina Faso
2016
Burundi
2016
Cambodia
2016
Cameroon
2016
Canada
2016
Vagrant
Cape Verde
2016
Central Af. Rep.
2016
Chad
2016
China
2016
Breeding
Christmas Island
2016
Cocos Is. (Keeling)
2016
Vagrant
Congo-Brazzaville
2016
Croatia
2016
Cyprus
2016
Czechia
2016
Breeding
Côte D’ivoire
2016
DR Congo (Kinshasa)
2016
Denmark
2016
Passage
Djibouti
2016
Dominica
2016
Vagrant
East Timor
2016
Egypt
2016
Equatorial Guinea
2016
Eritrea
2016
Eswatini
2016
Ethiopia
2016
Finland
2016
Vagrant
France
2016
Gabon
2016
Gambia
2016
Georgia
2016
Germany
2016
Ghana
2016
Gibraltar
2016
Non-Breeding
Greece
2016
Guadeloupe
2016
Vagrant
Guam
2016
Non-Breeding
Guinea-Bissau
2016
Breeding
Guinea
2016
Guyana
2016
Vagrant
Hong Kong
2016
Breeding
Hungary
2016
India
2016
Indonesia
2016
Iran
2016
Iraq
2016
Ireland
2016
Islands
2016
Vagrant
Israel
2016
Italy
2016
Japan
2016
Jordan
2016
Kazakhstan
2016
Breeding
Kenya
2016
Korea
2016
Kuwait
2016
Laos
2016
Latvia
2016
Vagrant
Lebanon
2016
Lesotho
2016
Liberia
2016
Libya
2016
Liechtenstein
2016
Vagrant
Luxembourg
2016
Vagrant
Malawi
2016
Malaysia
2016
Maldives
2016
Vagrant
Mali
2016
Malta
2016
Martinique
2016
Vagrant
Mauritania
2016
Micronesia
2016
Non-Breeding
Moldova
2016
Breeding
Mongolia
2016
Vagrant
Montenegro
2016
Montserrat
2016
Vagrant
Morocco
2016
Mozambique
2016
Myanmar
2016
Namibia
2016
Nepal
2016
Netherlands
2016
New Zealand
2016
Niger
2016
Nigeria
2016
Nort. Mariana Is.
2016
Non-Breeding
North Korea
2016
Breeding
North Macedonia
2016
Norway
2016
Vagrant
Oman
2016
Pakistan
2016
Palau
2016
Papua New Guinea
2016
Philippines
2016
Poland
2016
Breeding
Portugal
2016
Puerto Rico
2016
Vagrant
Qatar
2016
Romania
2016
Russia
2016
European Russia
Rwanda
2016
Saint Lucia
2016
Vagrant
Saint Pierre
2016
Vagrant
Saint Vincent
2016
Vagrant
Saudi Arabia
2016
Non-Breeding
Senegal
2016
Serbia
2016
Seychelles
2016
Sierra Leone
2016
Singapore
2016
Slovakia
2016
Breeding
Slovenia
2016
Non-Breeding
Solomon Islands
2016
Somalia
2016
South Africa
2016
South Sudan
2016
Spain
2016
Sri Lanka
2016
St. Kitts & Nevis
2016
Vagrant
Sudan
2016
Suriname
2016
Vagrant
Sweden
2016
Vagrant
Switzerland
2016
Syria
2016
Breeding
São Tomé & Príncipe
2016
Vagrant
Taiwan
2016
Tanzania
2016
Breeding
Thailand
2016
Togo
2016
Trinidad & Tobago
2016
Vagrant
Tunisia
2016
Turkmenistan
2016
Breeding
Turkey
2016
UAE
2016
Uganda
2016
Breeding
Ukraine
2016
United Kingdom
2016
United States
2016
Uzbekistan
2016
Vietnam
2016
Yemen
2016
Zambia
2016
Zimbabwe
2016

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No