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Cattle Egret


Quick Facts

Scientific name: Bubulcus ibis
Class: Bird
Length: 18.1 to 22.0 inches (46 to 56 centimeters)
Wingspan: 34.6 to 37.8 inches (88 to 96 centimeters)
Weight: 9.5 to 18.1 ounces (270 to 512 grams)
Life span: 23 years
Incubation: 22 to 28 days
Number of eggs: 2 to 4 eggs
Conservation status: Least Concern


When you eat, I eat

Cattle egrets follow grazing animals, like plains zebras and water buffalo, to find food quicker. Large grazing animals will pull up the grass and expose insects, spiders, frogs, and worms hiding in the soil. When the grazers move to a new location, cattle egrets swoop down and eat these small organisms.

Bird of many names

Cattle egrets don’t follow cows in every country. In fact, cattle egrets have tons of names in other languages. A few of their other names are cow cranes, cow herons, cow birds, elephant birds, rhinoceros egrets, and hippopotamus egrets. All of their names surround their relationship with grazing animals.

Dance moves

When trying the get the attention of a female, male cattle egrets dance. Males stretch out their wings, fan their tail feathers, perk up the plumes on their heads, and hop between their feet while shaking their feathers.

Mystery of movement

Originally, cattle egrets lived only in Africa. No one knows exactly how this species reached South America in 1877, but they have continued to spread their population. Today, cattle egrets represent one of the largest heron populations in North America and have spread all of the way to Alaska!



Learn more about our efforts, our conservation partners around the world, and the simple steps you can take to contribute.