SW Europe to Caspian Sea, Africa, Madagascar, N, C, S America, S & E Asia, Australia, New Zealand.
Mainly insectivore. Insects (horse-flies, flies, beetles, caterpillars, dragonflies, ticks, cicadas, crickets), also crustaceans, spiders, frogs, tadpoles, molluscs, fish, lizards, snakes, small birds, rodents. Occasionally vegetable matter, e.g. palm nut pulp.
Habitat: Pastures, freshwater habitats such as marshes and flood plains.
Incubation: 21-26 days / 2-5 eggs
Social structure: colonies of a few dozens to several thousand pairs or up to 10.000 pairs in Africa.
Weight: 510gr max
Dimensions: 46-56cm wingspan: 88-96cm
Estimated population in the wild: 4,000,000-9,850,000
Threats: Wetland degradation and destruction, pesticide poisoning, persecuting as public nuisance in urban areas, hunting and trading in traditional medicine markets (in Nigeria).
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Did you know that:
- In Greece it is a very rare winter visitor.
- Their name comes from their habit to wander alongside herds of cattle.
- By riding on the back of grazing animals they eat ticks and flies or insects stirred up by the grazing activity, they conserve energy and they are protected from predators.
- Some ranchers rely more on cattle egrets than pesticides to control flies around their herds.
- The first research on this species was conducted by Aristotle (384-322 b.c.)