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5

Plumed Egret

(Ardea plumifera)
Alternate name(s): "Intermediate Egret", "White Crane*",
"Median Egret", "Smaller Egret", "Yellow-billed Egret"

Size: 55-70 cm; wing span 1.05-1.2 m
Weight: 360-405 g

Similar
species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Plumed Egret at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "plumifera"

Not the photos you want? Or are you after even better quality? Have a look here .

ADULT

Sex unknown

BREEDING

With nuptial flush

Near-lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage and nuptial flush
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage and nuptial flush
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage and nuptial flush
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

Near-dorsal view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage and nuptial flush (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Wetlands, Lytton, QLD, December 2023]

Without nuptial flush

Close-up lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Botanic Gardens, Gold Coast, QLD, October 2019]

Near-frontal view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

Near-lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage spreading its wings (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Wetlands, Lytton, QLD, March 2019]

Size comparison between an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage and a male Australian Little Bittern
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Wetlands, Lytton, QLD, March 2019]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in transitional plumage (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Anstead, QLD, July 2017]

Near-dorsal view of an Plumed Egret starting to moult into its breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2009]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in partial breeding plumage in low hovering flight (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, May 2018]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in partial breeding plumage in low hovering flight (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, May 2018]

Near-lateral view of an Plumed Egret in partial breeding plumage banking to land (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, May 2018]

NON-BREEDING

Close-up lateral view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage with a deformation at the base of its bill
(photo courtesy of J. Boettcher, FNQ Nature Tours)
[Mareeba Wetlands, QLD, August 2020]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Near-dorsal view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage
[Inverell, NSW, January 2017]

Dorsal view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage
[Inverell, NSW, January 2017]

Dorsal view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Near-frontal view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage in flight
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, May 2021]

Near-frontal view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage in flight
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, May 2021]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage in flight
[Macquarie Marshes NR, NSW, May 2021]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in non-breeding plumage in flight, with fully stretched neck
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2011]

The same Plumed Egret as shown above, now with full flaps for landing
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2011]

Plumed Egret in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2010]

Here a direct comparison of an Plumed Egret in flight (back right) with a Great Egret in the foreground; the main distinction between the two is in the lores, which extend to behind the eye for the Great Egret, but not for the Plumed Egret
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2010]

This photo allows a comparison of the relative sizes of a Cattle Egret (centre), a Great Egret (left) and an Plumed Egret (right); all of them are searching for nesting material under a tree after a violent storm
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Most of the birds shown here will probably be Plumed Egrets; this photo gives an impression of how many egrets a single lake such as Narrabri Lake can support in a breeding season; obviously this flock is only part of the local population
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Lateral view of a (probably young) Plumed Egret
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a (probably young) Plumed Egret
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2012]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Oct - Jan Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: 25 days Fledging age: 63 - 70 days

The breeding season depends significantly on geographical latitude. In the tropical north Plumed Egrets breed Dec - Mar. Given the right conditions, Plumed Egrets can breed any time of the year. They breed in colonies, together with other aquatic birds.

There is a separate page showing a pair of Plumed Egrets performing a nuptial dance.

Nest

"bungobittah", "lar", "malunna", "jindi" [bundjalung] = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, lined with leaves Height above ground: 5 - 20 m

Seen nesting, together with other aquatic birds, along the shores of Narrabri Lake during the breeding season of 2008 and subsequent years.

Pair of Plumed Egrets, both in breeding plumage with nuptial flush, adding a stick to their nest - usually, the division of labour in pairs of egrets is that the male (presumably the bird at upper right) brings the sticks, with which the female (on the left) builds the nest
(photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Arkarra Lagoons, Hervey Bay, QLD, November 2023]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret in breeding plumage with nuptial flush on its nest; note the red base of the bill, the turquoise orbital skin (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Arkarra Lagoons, Hervey Bay, QLD, November 2023]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "mirk", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena", "pum-pum" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 47 x 34 mm Colour: Light blue Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Partly migratory/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/flock

We have observed an Plumed Egret use a hunting technique that we had previously only seen a Black-necked Stork employ.

Plumed Egret standing on a lily pad
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

Plumed Egret using its wing to frighten fish in the water...
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

... before pouncing on its prey; note how the lily pad provides a good base for the Plumed Egret to push off from
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

Food, Diet

All egrets and herons prey on aquatic creatures in fresh water or estuaries (fish, frogs, snakes or crustaceans). Plumed Egrets will take any of those.

Plumed Egrets with a frog it has just caught high up in a tree standing on the edge of Narrabri Lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2012]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret trying unsuccessfully to swallow a small snake or legless lizard
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Lateral view of an Plumed Egret with its catch, a fish (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

We will try to replace this poor recording with a better one as soon as possible.

integrt_20140817.m4a plumifera
(Darwin, NT)
Annoyed © MD

More Plumed Egret sound recordings are available at xeno-canto.org .

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.