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Little Egret | Egretta garzetta

The Little Egret is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Ardeidae bird family group which includes birds such as Egrets, Herons, Bitterns.

The description for the Little Egret (Latin name Egretta garzetta) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Egretta garzetta can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 67 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 583. You will find a picture of the Little Egret on page 592.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

There have been no changes in the common name between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Little Egret between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Little Egret is known in Afrikaans as Kleinwitreier.

The Little Egret has a height of 64 cms and weighs around 520 gms. The head is coloured white while the bill is coloured black. The Egretta garzetta has a white coloured throat, grey, black legs and a white coloured back. The eyes are black.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is white

Eyes are black

Bill is black

Legs are grey, black

Throat is white

Back is white

This bird has long legs ? ie legs the length of which are out of proportion to the bird's body size. This can be a useful identification guide (eg with the Lapwings).

Feeding Habits ...

This bird forages for food on the ground

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

This bird hunts for small reptiles such as lizards, geckos and bush snakes. The Little Egret strikes poisonous snakes on the head with one fatal blow which kills the snake instantly. There have been cases were this bird has been killed by a snake while hunting. Some birds have been blinded by Cobra venom.

The diet includes small mammals such as rabbits, field mice and other rodents. Rodents are usually taken from the ground and killed using the sharp claws. The Little Egret uses its hard bill to tear up the flesh.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten .

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Little Egret is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 to 4 eggs and they are coloured green.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foligae.

The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators.

The Little Egret is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The Little Egret is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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