The Cattle Egret Expansion

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Other species have certainly expanded their ranges, but never in such a rapid and global scale. I’d like to introduce you to a diminutive heron, the Cattle Egret Bubuclus ibis. The Cattle Egret is native to Africa, where it is a familiar sight among herds of large mammals. For reasons that are not quite clear, this species underwent a massive range expansion. S ome authors have argued they are two separate species though most still consider them conspecific.

Cattle Egrets in La Paz, Mexico

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None of these birds are rarities, and would never be considered a species to get all twitter-pated about. The real shock came, when at the last minute, I realized that they were not Greater Egrets , nor the smaller Snowy Egrets , but Cattle Egrets – Bubulcus ibis. With one chance to fire off a quick shot, my camera fixed with the 500MM lens, thru the trees over my head, I was rewarded with a blurry, terrible shot, of Cattle Egrets ! Birds Cattle Egret La Paz Mexico

Cattle Egrets Eating Herps at the Viera Wetlands

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One of the creatures that didn’t so much cross my path as follow it was a Cattle Egret that seemed to think my car was a suitable substitute for cows. And, when a Leopard Frog moved to escape my car, the Cattle Egret was proven correct. But I wasn’t done with Cattle Egret yet! They were also finding tree frogs though I am not sure of the exact species. Whatever the species is, these tree frogs didn’t have a chance.

Invasive Species Week Wrap-Up

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Perhaps our outrage at invasive species can be a bit hypocritical at times. Listers are quick to put aside their condemnation of invasive species once they attain that coveted status of exotic: not native, not fully naturalized, but established well enough to be countable by the prevailing authority. The rapid proliferation of the European Starling is, on the species level, equivalent to incalculable fortunes of billionaire moguls.

Africa’s endangered species

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More than 150 bird species are known to have become extinct over the past 500 years, and many more are estimated to have been driven to extinction before they became known to science. The bulk of the recent bird extinctions has been on islands, where species are more susceptible to extermination due to smaller ranges, lower population sizes and a lack of adaptation for coping with introduced predators.

Which Bird Species Have Gone Extinct in Costa Rica?

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Instead of going on about zip lines and other modern, adventure tourism attractions, the birding crowd talks about taking photos of Resplendent Quetzals , seeing dozens of hummingbird species, and the seemingly odd absence of raptors in Costa Rica but nope, we don’t really talk about extinction. Searches haven’t turned up any suspect Alfaro’s either but maybe we just need to look more, or compare its DNA with other, known hummingbird species. Species.

A Gathering at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge

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One species I can always count on at Colusa NWR is the Black-crowned Night-Heron ( Nycticorax nycticorax ), which boasts a large resident population. There had to be at least 100 or more, and when I got closer, I was excited to find several Cattle Egrets ( Bubulcus ibis ), a species of which a decent photograph had always eluded me. I was mesmerized watching these several different species, all foraging in this shallow wetland habitat.

2015 55

Whooping Crane at Joe Overstreet Road

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Like my two previous visits I spent one day that I didn’t have to lead any field trips doing a run through central Florida looking for some of the specialty species of the region. On my previous trips I was successful on each and every species except for the crane. The first farm on the left, where all the cattle are? He’s usually way back from the road, but he feeds from the cattle trough so he sticks around.

2015 66

“Condors over Cologne” – Rogue Ales & Spirits: Condor Kolsch

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Following passage of the United States Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, the California Condor ( Gymnogyps californianus ) was among the first 75 species listed for protection, the so-called “Class of 1967”. Beset by poaching by cattle ranchers, habitat loss, DDT, and lead poisoning (from consuming shotgun pellets embedded in the condor’s carrion fare), populations of this enormous New World vulture fell into a serious decline in the twentieth century.

2018 41

Critically Endangered: Sociable Lapwing

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The official definition of CR status says the species could be gone within ten years, or could lose 80 per cent of its population within three generations – whichever comes first. Actually, despite the fact that central Asian steppes cover huge areas, Sociable Lapwings breed only around nomadic cattle herders’ settlements, which signifies that this species has evolved alongside wild ungulates, such as Blackbuck and Saiga antelopes, which kept the grass short.

2014 79

Cockatoo Creek

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We have observed huge flocks of Galahs there on previous visits and other times there are more bird species, but only one or two of each species. Walking out onto the bridge we soon observed a good mixture of other bird species. Cattle Egret.

The Usual Suspects

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Still, the outing did not produce any new species for the year, or enough good photos for a post here. Instead, I have chosen to write about an idea I’ve had percolating for a while: to tell you what the most common species are down here.

Birding in the Delhi area Part 1

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One of the many things I did not know about Delhi is that it is the capital city with the second-largest number of bird species (after Nairobi). Cattle Egret. Doing what cattle egrets do: communicating with cattle, even though these tend to be somewhat dull conversation partners.

2020 72

Persistence Pays Off For Burrowing Owls

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This property is located in northern Butte County which is nearing the (dwindling) northern most historic range for this species in California. This property is also a site with vernal pools and uses cattle grazing for vegetation control. Birds Conservation Athene cunicularia Audubon California burrowing owls species of special concern Western Burrowing OwlAs I opined in my post back in 2010 (and continue to preach) the Western Burrowing Owl needs a conservation plan.

2016 40

Yellow-billed Spoonbills breeding

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One bird species that we occasionally observe around Broome is the Yellow-billed Spoonbill, but we had not seen one for a few years until recently. We soon observed several bird species and then a Yellow-billed Spoonbill flew overhead.

Seeing Sociable Lapwing in Kazakhstan

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Now, seeing Sociable Lapwing , a species that is critically endangered and thought to number roughly 11,000 individuals, would be a treat any day but to see several pairs on their breeding grounds? It seems that they especially enjoy being around cattle, which helps lead to the number one cause of nest failure, trampling (the number two reason is predation). Above is the area where the three pairs we observed were nesting which we were told was rather typical for the species.

Visit the Macaw Lodge in Costa Rica

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Today the reserve contains mature forests, secondary forests, rivers, lagoons, small waterfalls, agroforestry productive areas, and functional gardens; which are the habitat of more than 350 species of birds.

Come to Puembo Birding Garden

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Ecuador is one of the world’s leading destinations for birdwatchers, and no wonder: with more then 1,600 bird species found throughout the small country, Ecuador has the world’s highest density of bird species found per acre. One guide has been taking care of cattle.

2019 86

Birding Nanhui, Shanghai, in September 2021

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I pointed at the bird shown below but he insisted it could not be that species – no long tail … For people of a certain age, gender and background, at some point The Smiths were the most important band in the world. Cattle Egrets have perfected that smudgy look.


A Lake Reborn… sort of

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This lake, with a surface area of up to 150 square miles in good years, is my go-to site for dozens of waterfowl and shorebird species, so I take its health personally.

2018 87

Birding Tiaozini again – sponsored by the local government …

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The fields near the Tiaozini mudflats look very much like a lunar landscape, but this does not seem to keep a number of species from breeding there, sometimes directly on dirt roads. The fourth species apparently breeding on these fields is Grey-headed Lapwing.

The 20 most common birds in Shanghai (Part 1)

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Today`s species are just the first 10 by alphabetical order. The Cattle Egret (or Eastern Cattle Egret , to be exact, but that would mess with my alphabetic order) can be seen in farmland around Shanghai. Instead of cattle, it nowadays often follows tractors ploughing the fields and thus stirring up small animals. I was not really that interested though – the species is not difficult to see in Shanghai. That is a bit unfair to this species.

2019 47

Nanhui, Shanghai in August

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Cattle Egret … though some of them seem to want to hide (which is really difficult for a white bird). Webster`s Dictionary defines Cuculophotobia as “The fear of bird photographers to post cuckoo photos online due to the high likeliness of getting the species assignment wrong.”

2020 66

The Dracula Bird

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I am only responding to my subjective impression of a single species’ appearance here; specifically, that of the Bronzed Cowbird. Instead, they lay their eggs in other species’ nests, and let those nest-making birds (often significantly smaller than the cowbirds) raise their young.

2020 58

Best Bird of the Weekend (Second of July 2019)

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i got my fill of cygnets and goslings this weekend, but the best sighting was an adult Cattle Egret that apparently didn’t realize how far Upstate New York was from wherever it should be. Of those species, his favorite was a young Killdeer , which easily became his Best Bird of the Weekend. July birding in the Northern Hemisphere may be slow, but you’ve got to love those adorable baby birds! Does anyone out there keep a separate list for fledglings and chicks?

2019 48

A huge gathering of Galahs

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There are always stray cattle to watch out for, but we prefer to minimize the risk of hitting animals by leaving on road trips until a couple of hours after sunrise. Due to the lack of rain during what should have been our Wet Season at the start of the year there are now huge concentrations of some bird species that we would normally only see in small numbers. On Monday we went from Broome to Derby.

2019 64

It doesn’t take much water to attract birds

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At the shallow natural clay-pan where the three Pink-eared Ducks were hiding in plain sight there were many other bird species. One cattle footprint full of water can mean survival for many bird species.

Where I Went Birding that Third Weekend of September 2020

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This species loves to sing while high up in pine trees. But I was delighted to see a Black-chinned Sparrow near the shore; this is only my eighth sighting of this species. With 60 mostly-high-quality species on my first visit, you bet I will!

2020 89

The best-kept birding secrets of Belgrade

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and 180 bird species ( Ferruginous Duck , Black Woodpecker ; Icterine , Eastern Olivaceous and Barred Warblers ) recorded so far. I made this tour myself several days ago (late July), and will report mostly on the species I actually found, as well as some mammals.

Boars 87

Birding a Kimberley Quarry in 2020

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The main bird species around the quarry were Zebra Finch , Painted Finch , Spinifex Pigeons , Crested Pigeons , Peaceful Doves and Diamond Doves. Some of you may well remember the quarry that I wrote about in October 2016.

2020 96

Herons and Egrets of Nanhui, Shanghai

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It is interesting to see the different evolutionary strategies of closely related bird species – the various snow-white egrets with their “I don`t give a damn who can see me” attitude contrasting with the ridiculously well-camouflaged yellow bitterns.

2020 63

Racking up the numbers

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So on January 1st, or as close to it as I can get, I always head a half hour north to the one site of mine that offers more species than any other: Lago de Cuitzeo (Cuitzeo Lake). Our three summer Duck species, Mexican, Ruddy, and Fulvous Whistling-Duck , expand to as many as thirteen species.

2020 55


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Cattle Egret. Cuckoo species (common?): I am probably one of the least qualified people to write a post with this title, as my interest in food is quite limited, as long as I do not go hungry.

2020 69

Planning and executing birding plans in the times of corona-virus

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First, 800 km of driving from Belgrade through Bulgaria to very NE corner of Greece and the Dadia Forest National Park with its 36 species of diurnal raptors, out of Europe’s 38. Paigeo for mountain species such as Rock Partridge.

2020 80

Uganda’s Billion Dollar Bird: The Shoebill

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That honor goes to the Gray-crowned Crane , a very sexy species in its own right. Uganda may offer a chance at x% of the world’s bird species—birds we fully intended on tracking down—but the Shoebill surpasses them all in importance. Not all birds are created equal.

Hawking for Nighthawks

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The cows and their entourage of Cattle Egrets sloshed through the pastures, each time they moved we lurched forward hoping to see a disturbed Grey-breasted Crake hop into view – but alas, no such luck even though we were hearing the little skulkers consistently.

2020 75

Birding the Changi Business Park-Singapore

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It is often useful to look at satellite images on Google Earth to see where there is suitable habitat for different bird species. When we decided to go to see what bird species there were in the undeveloped areas at Changi Business Park we encountered several species of bird that we did not observe anywhere else in Singapore. Another bird species that we did not encounter anywhere else in Singapore was the Green Imperial Pigeon.

Avian Expansion in Two Acts

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It has no avian endemic species (only one subspecies), and its most spectacular birds like Venezuelan Troupial and Fiery-Topaz Hummingbird can be found in greater numbers across a narrow strait in mainland South America, where you can pick up an additional 400-500 species besides. The species was predicted to sweep up the eastern seaboard turning aside hordes of Brown-headed Cowbirds in its wake and causing the extinction of forest bird just by looking askance at them.

2013 55

A flooded landscape

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This bird species is known to travel large distances around Australia. Wedge-tailed Eagle -bigger than the cattle!? In Broome we have been getting some good isolated rain events recently. They are so isolated that it could be raining very close by, but not actually where you are.

Geese 86

“Caged” Egrets and Little Black Cormorants

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It is always hot in Kununurra and you can easily observe many of the bird species around town from your air-conditioned vehicle. Right beside the road and the irrigation channel were a mixed flock of Cattle Egret , Intermediate Egrets and Little Black Cormorants all “caged” in. On our recent trip to Kununurra we travelled our usual route around the township.

2019 41

Windjana Gorge in 2020

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Having observed the Cattle Egret in breeding plumage at the Derby Poo Ponds on June 19th we found ourselves at Windjana Gorge first thing the following morning. Green-backed Gerygones were calling and it is a species we always seek out when we visit.

2020 87

Collaborative list November – 2021

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My birding list for November totals 15 species. 156 Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis. I have been humming the Dwarves’ theme from Sleeping Beauty all month. Can’t think why. …we bird, bird, bird, bird, bird, bird, bird in the marsh the whole day thru.

What Flies Over Costa Rica in the Night?

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At the moment, night excursions to Poas are limited by pandemic driving restrictions but I can still surmise about the species flying overhead. This fall, I have had the fortune of listening to both species calling at the same time from the back balcony.