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 2006).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
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 2006).
Diverse diet which varies greatly according to foraging habitat, feeding opportunity, and prey availability. Mostly grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, flies, frogs, and noctuid moths (Telfair 2006).
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 2006).