Egret (Little) / Egretta garzetta

Did you know...

Normally silent, they make croaking and bubbling calls at the breeding colony

The elegant neck plumes of an egret in breeding plumage were once more valuable than gold

The Little egret is a white heron species found over a wide range in Europe, Africa and Asia. It has long black legs with yellow feet and a slim back bill. Adult males have two long nape plumes and gauzy breast plumes which develop in the breeding season.

The little egret is carnivorous, stalking a range of prey in shallow water often by shuffling its feet to disturb small fish and other animals; by running with wings raised or in true heron fashion by standing very still and waiting to ambush prey. The diet normally consists of fish, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans and insects.

Little egrets are gregarious birds and nest in colonies, often in association with other wading birds. The egret builds a platform-like nest of sticks in trees, shrubs, reed beds or bamboo groves. Pairs establish a small breeding territory of 3-4 metres around the nest. The 3-5 eggs are incubated by both parents and hatch after an incubation period of 21-25 days. The young fledge at 40-45 days.

Once in decline over much of its range the population trends now show an increase in numbers and the bird is beginning to re-colonise parts of its former range including Britain which now has some 750 plus breeding pairs.