75. Cattle Egret

“As our city streets quiet, as people hang back from parks and paths,
and the busy noise of daily life recedes,
listen for the birds.”
David Arnold, President of the Nat’l Audubon Society


Cattle Egret *

The cattle egret has a relatively short, thick neck, a sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. It spends most of its time in fields rather than streams.
The cattle egret’s breeding plumage highlights its beautiful peach feathers, and it often appears to be wearing spiked topknots. Its legs and feet even change from black to a dramatic orange.

Cattle egrets feed on a wide range of prey, particularly insects, especially grasshoppers, crickets, flies (adults and maggots), and moths, as well as spiders, frogs, lizards and earthworms.
They forage at the feet of grazing cattle, heads bobbing with each step, or ride on their backs to pick at ticks.

Sonyanga Ole Ngais, a Maasai Warrior Saves a Cattle Egret

* Why feature the Cattle Egret?

This is the last day of what has turned out to be Elephant Week, and elephants have a special relationship with the cattle egret.
The cattle egret, while relieving the elephant of parasites, receives a free meal and a free ride as the elephant walks along. But the egret enjoys this same kind of relationship with a number of different mammals.
Elephants, on the other hand, aren’t involved in any other symbiotic relationships except that of the cattle egret. For the elephant, it’s the cattle egret only.