A medium sized white egret (19-20 in.), stockier and thicker necked than the Snowy Egret. In breeding plumage, both males and females have crowns of buff-orange, and some of that color on their breast and back; little or no buff at other times. The Cattle Egret’s bill appears relatively short and yellow and orange-pink when breeding. Its legs are coral pink when nesting. Juvenile Cattle Egrets are all white and have dark black bills and short black legs and feet. The voice is usually silent.
The habitat the Cattle Egret frequents consists of dry grassy upland areas particularly those occupied by grazing animals, also roadside grassy highway center divides, airports and parks. The Cattle Egret does not wade in open water like other egrets. If you see a white egret feeding on dry land or among cattle, it is most likely a Cattle Egret. Originally from Africa, Cattle Egrets were unknown in North America before 1952. They are now abundant over much of the continent.
The Cattle Egret’s diet consists of mostly insects stirred up in plowed fields or grass mowing. They also consume frogs, spiders, grasshoppers, crickets, and flies.
Cattle Egrets nest in trees or tall shrubs, often in colonies with other herons. They usually have a clutch of 3-4 pale blue eggs. Incubation is by both parents for 21-26 days. The pair feed the young, by regurgitation. The young begin to climb about near the nest at 15-20 days, begin flight at 25-30 days and become independent at about 50 days.