Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis
FWP Conservation Tier
A gregarious, white, chicken-sized bird easily recognized by its foraging association with grazing animals. Compared to similar-sized herons and egrets, it is short-legged and thick-necked; throat appears swollen (Telfair II 1994).
Western Hemisphere Range
Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(direct evidence "B")
(indirect evidence "b")
No evidence of Breeding
(regular observations "W")
(at least one obs. "w")
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
The Cattle Egret is the most terrestrial heron; widespread and remarkably adapted to many habitats, both terrestrial and aquatic. Best described as a species adapted to naturally disturbed as well as to highly disrupted, converted landscapes, such as typical cattle and farm land and urban areas (parks, school grounds, sports fields, road edges, lawns, and city dumps and refuse areas) (Telfair II 1994).
Diverse diet which varies greatly according to foraging habitat, feeding opportunity, and prey availability. Mostly grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, flies, frogs, and noctuid moths (Telfair II 1994).
Nests in multi-species colonies established by native herons, egrets, ibises etc. and uses a wide variety of sites and substrates. Nests in live and dead vegetation. Eggs typically subelliptical, light sky blue in color. Clutch size ranges 1 to 9 eggs, averaging 3 to 4. Most first broods occur from early May to early June, depending on weather conditions (Telfair II 1994).
- Additional ReferencesLegend: View WorldCat Record View Online Publication
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- American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
- Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
- Johnsgard, P. A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
- Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
- Lokemoen, J.T. 1979. The status of herons, egrets, and ibises in North Dakota. Prairie Nat. 11(4): 97-110.
- Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
- Schmidt, R.A. 1980. First breeding record of the White-faced Ibis in North Dakota. Prairie Nat. 12(1): 21-23.
- U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
- Wassink, J. 1991. Birds of the Central Rockies. Mountain Press Publishing Co., Missoula, MT.
- Wright, P.L. 1996. Status of rare birds in Montana, with comments on known hybrids. Northwestern Naturalist 77(3):57-85.