Cattle Egret / Bubulcus ibis / أبو قردان

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Status: Common

 Beitillu, Umm at

The Cattle Egret belong to the Ardeidae family in the Ciconiformes order. It is 45-53 cm in size and 300-450 in weight. The cattle egret is a completely white bird with an orange beak and dark yellow legs.  During the breeding season they vary in colors as rust brown spots appear on the crown and sometimes on the chest. The legs and beak acquire a deep red color. The juveniles are heavy built with a rumpled look. They have black beaks and feet, that will lighten in color as they grow. Cattle egrets fly with their necks retracted, giving them a heavy, thick appearance. The orange bill is easily discernible on the background of the sky and it is comparatively thick. The cattle egret is similar to two other white egrets, the Great Egret and the little Egret. The Cattle Egret is much smaller than the Great Egret. The heavy orange beak and heavier body distinguish it from the Little Egret that has a long and slender black beak. The Cattle Egret is very adaptable to various environments, from fish ponds to woodlands, but prefers grasslands. These egrets can often be seen accompanying herds of sheep, cattle and deer. They stand on the backs of the animals and eat the ticks on their backs. As the bird is accustomed to human environment, the egret can be found and nests almost everywhere. As it accompanies the settlement of new areas by man, it poses a threat to reptiles that inhabit areas where it was previously unknown. As a highly adaptive bird that breeds in a variety of environments it has been known to displace other treetop nesting birds. The nesting of these birds can be damaging to the trees because of the acidic nature of their waste, which can destroy their foliage. These egrets nest in large colonies, often with a mixed population including small egrets and ibises. The cattle egret population is sedentary in most of the places where it is found, in tropical and warm temperate areas. They can be found in Africa, Asia, Australia, Southern Europe, Arabia and even North and South America. The world population is on the rise and is estimated at 4-7 million birds. Cattle egrets are common all over Palestine, mainly around herds of cattle.

International conservation status: LC

Regional conservation status: LC

Migratory behaviour: Breeder. Remarks: Following sheep and goats.