Cattle Egret at the L-28 Interceptor Levee
WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – L-28 INTERCEPTOR LEVEE, COLLIER COUNTY, FL
This wildlife photo is of a Cattle Egret taken along the bank of the L-28 Interceptor Levee located in Collier County, FL. The camera gear used to photography this Cattle Egret was a Nikon D90 body attached to a Tamron 28-300mm lens.
The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) is a cosmopolitan species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Bubulcus, although some authorities regard its two subspecies as full species, the Western Cattle Egret and the Eastern Cattle Egret. Despite the similarities in plumage to the egrets of the genus Egretta, it is more closely related to the herons of Ardea. Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonized much of the rest of the world.
The Cattle Egret is a stocky heron with a 88–96 cm (35–38 in) wingspan; it is 46–56 centimeters (18–22 in) long and weighs 270–512 grams (9.5–18.1 oz). It has a relatively short thick neck, sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. The non-breeding adult has mainly white plumage, a yellow bill and greyish-yellow legs. During the breeding season, adults of the nominate western subspecies develop orange-buff plumes on the back, breast and crown, and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a brief period prior to pairing. The sexes are similar, but the male is marginally larger and has slightly longer breeding plumes than the female; juvenile birds lack colored plumes and have a black bill.
It is a white bird adorned with buff plumes in the breeding season. It nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The nest is a platform of sticks in trees or shrubs. Cattle Egrets exploit drier and open habitats more than other heron species. Their feeding habitats include seasonally inundated grasslands, pastures, farmlands, wetlands and rice paddies. They often accompany cattle or other large mammals, catching insect and small vertebrate prey disturbed by these animals. Some populations of the Cattle Egret are migratory and others show post-breeding dispersal.