CATTLE EGRET (Ardea ibis)

The Cattle Egret (Ardea ibis)  is large compared to other native birds, but is actually the smallest of the Egrets, and unmistakable in its breeding plumage with long yellow or ginger plumes on its head, neck , back and throat.

It’s frequently found feeding among grazing animals which is probably where the name came from (I presume).

The breeding adult is white, often rather scruffy, with yellowish beak and legs.  Cattle Egrets are found in most coastal regions of Australia, not necessarily close to water, although it breeds in trees over water.

These photos were made in Melbourne Zoo’s Great Aviary and the images below gives you some idea of how large this space is.

While Melbourne Zoo, located to the north of the city and easily accessible via tram from William Street, is open 365 days of the year, there is the odd occasion when the Aviary is closed for maintenance, so if you’re visiting to specifically visit the Great Aviary, it might be worth a phone call before you leave home/hotel.

Another hint: Don’t go during the school holidays in Melbourne, as young children have a habit of running down the boardwalk and squealing excitedly, which kind of…… spoils the experience a wee bit…..well it does for me.   Not that I have anything against young children enjoying themselves, but I really do think, for the enjoyment of other visitors, parents might try to discourage loud boisterous behaviour in this particular area.  There are signs at the Aviary entrance requesting that children don’t run anyway.

I could easily spend 2 hours in the Great Aviary and have done so many, many times over the years.

14 thoughts on “CATTLE EGRET (Ardea ibis)

    1. Nearly every bird is a new bird for me (as I’ve only just learned their names in the last few years), Peggy 🙂 A Blackbird or Magpie was about my limit before I bought a camera, and every time I see a new bird and get excited thinking its rare, I look it up in my Bird Guide and find its common. Having a camera is a great eye-opener for me.


    1. It certainly is, Terry. Better in Autumn or Spring though. In summer the birds are in the shade and harder to see and in the winter, the birds are right at the top of the trees basking in the smallest bit of sun.


  1. Our cattle egret is Bubulcus ibis, and it’s one of our most common birds. In fact, I’d say I see it more often than any other water bird: partly because it’s willing to roam far away from water. One of the most iconic Texas sights is a flock of cattle egrets perched atop longhoron cattle — or any other cattle, for that matter. They do hang around together, in a mutually beneficial relationship.

    The birds also will follow plows or mowers, picking up insects as the ground is broken, or hay is cut. And they’re as likely to be found in the suburbs as the country, following mowers around. I think ours aren’t quite as spiffy as yours in appearance, though. They have patches of yellow and tan, but they’re mostly white.

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  2. I can see from your photo you also captured the two female Red-tailed black cockatoos snoozing! I’m always glad to hear people appreciate our beautiful native bird species! Hope you get more pictures next time you visit


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