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5

Little Egret

(Ardea [Egretta] garzetta)
Alternate name(s): "Lesser Egret", "Spotless Egret"
Size: 55-65 cm; wingspan: 88-106 cm
Weight: 350-550 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 Little Egret at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Additional information

More photos were obtained by us in Oman.

Race "nigripes"

ADULT

BREEDING

Lateral view of a Little Egret in breeding plumage
[O'Brien's Creek, Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

Lateral view of a Little Egret hunting in shallow water (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Lateral view of a Little Egret in partial breeding plumage (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2014]

NON-BREEDING

This Little Egret is moulting into its non-breeding plumage and has already lost its plumes
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, February 2012]

Little Egret in transitional plumage taking off (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)
[Beachmere, QLD, August 2012]

Little Egret hunting in mangrove in an intertidal wetland
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, February 2012]

Close-up full-frontal view of a Little Egret in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Gold Coast, QLD, June 2014]

Lateral view of a hunched Little Egret in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Gold Coast, QLD, June 2014]

Lateral view of a Little Egret in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Wyndham, WA, January 2016]

Near-dorsal view of a Little Egret in non-breeding plumage
[Near Walgett, NSW, June 2012]

Near-lateral view of a Little Egret taking off (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2014]

Little Egret touching down in shallow water
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, September 2016]

Direct comparison of a Little Egret with a Brolga (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Wyndham, WA, January 2016]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Oct - Dec Eggs: 4 - 6 Incubation period: 20 - 25 days Fledging age: 35 - 37 days

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

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Sticks Height above ground: 5 - 20 m

Seen nesting, together with other aquatic birds, along the shores of Narrabri Lake during the breeding season of 2011.

Little Egret on its nest
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

Same bird and nest as above; view from a different angle; now a chick can be seen under the adult bird's head
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2011]

Eggs

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

Size: 42 x 30 mm Colour: Light blue Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Sedentary/dispersive Elementary unit: Pair/flock

Little Egrets have a different hunting technique compared to other species of egrets or herons.

Instead of always waiting for the prey to move towards them and then snapping it up, they have been observed by us just walking up to their prey, actively pursuing prey in shallow water and also performing some kind of "step-dance", chasing or encircling their prey.

Little Egret standing in the receding tide, waiting for prey to come its way
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, March 2015]

Little Egret in breeding plumage walking up to its prey
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, March 2015]

Little Egret in breeding plumage actively pursuing its prey
[Urunga board walk, Urunga Heads, NSW, March 2015]

Little Egret in non-breeding plumage stalking around its intended prey, with the intention of trapping it in the circle created by the disturbance; the circle is still visible in the wave pattern at the water surface
[Near Walgett, NSW, June 2012]

Food, Diet

All egrets and herons prey on aquatic creatures in fresh water or estuaries (fish, frogs, snakes or crustaceans).

Little Egret in breeding plumage with its catch (photo courtesy of B. Kinross)
[Beachmere, QLD, February 2014]

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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