A Cattle Egret (Bubulcus Ibis) flying with material for nest building in Windsor Forest, West Coast Demerara (Photo by Kester Clarke www.kesterclarke.net)

The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is found in the tropics, subtropics, and warm-temperate zones. Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonised much of the rest of the world in the last century.

It is a white bird adorned with buff plumes in the breeding season. It has a relatively short, thick neck, a sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. The nonbreeding adult has mainly white plumage, a yellow bill, and greyish-yellow legs.

The Cattle Egret maintains a special relationship with cattle and other large grazing mammals; wider human farming is believed to be a major cause of its expanded range. The Cattle Egret removes ticks and flies from cattle and consumes them; this benefits both species.

It also feeds on other prey, particularly insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, and moths, as well as spiders, frogs, and earthworms. In rare instances it will forage along the branches of a banyan tree for ripe figs.

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