Wildwood Group
Wildwood Group
Wildwood Group

Little Egret

Egretta garzetta

 

Description

Species of small heron, weighing between 350-550g. It is white, with black legs and bill, yellow feet. During the breeding season, two long plumes grow on their head and neck.

Distribution

Large global distribution. Some European populations migrate to Africa, whilst Asian populations migrate to the Philippines. There are also resident populations in the warmer parts of Europe, Africa and Asia, in addition to Australia and New Zealand.

Habitat

Wetland bird, found in shallow water such as lagoons, marshes, rivers, ponds, mangroves, swamps and mudflats. Open areas are preferred over dense cover.

Diet

Opportunistic predator feeding mainly on fish, aquatic and terrestrial insects and crustaceans. Amphibians, reptiles, molluscs and small birds may also be taken.

Behaviour

Highly social, forming large flocks (sometimes including other species) numbering in their thousands during breeding seasons. When hunting, stalk prey in shallow water, using their feet or ruffling their wings to disturb prey.

UK Status

Historically were present in the UK and Ireland until the 16th century, whereby hunting and climate change caused their localised extinction, with rare, sporadic visitors. In the late 20th century however, it has become more common in the UK, regularly breeding and often seen in large numbers. The population in the UK is steadily increasing, and their range is gradually moving northwards.

Threats

Wetland habitat destruction and degradation due to drainage for agriculture, and agricultural contamination is a major factor that threatens little egret populations. They were hunted for their head plumes historically, however this is no longer a threat.

Wildwood

Our little egrets can be found in our Ken West Aviary, along with our red-billed chough, avocets and night heron. Keep your eyes peeled around the rest of the park though, as we do regularly get wild Little egrets occasionally visiting.

Did you know?

There are dark colour forms, whereby the plumage is bluish-grey instead of their characteristic white.