Thursday, 22 December 2016

Western Cattle Egret (Héron garde-boeufs) on Cuba

     Western Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis is a medium-sized, short legged white egret with a stout, relatively short yellow bill.

     Its range expansion during the twentieth century has been nothing short of sensational. From its original range in Africa it has expanded, by natural means to South America, onward to the islands of the Caribbean, the United States and is now regularly seen in the southernmost regions of Canada. It occupies the rank of the most numerous heron in North America.

     During our recent trip to Cuba we encountered this species every day, often feeding in commensal fashion with livestock, giving credence to its name.

         Its normal diet comprises insects, especially grasshoppers. Locust, grasshoppers and crickets are the common element of its world-wide diet and its feeding strategy seems designed to locate and capture orthopterans. Other components of its insectivorous feeding regimen include flies, beetles, caterpillars, dragonflies, mayflies and cicadas. Other prey includes molluscs, crayfish, frogs, tadpoles, lizards, snakes, fish, rats and birds. Vertebrates, especially frogs are important during the late nesting season to provide high-energy packets and calcium needed for development.
       It is safe to assume that like most birds Cattle Egrets are opportunistic feeders and do not hesitate to capture whatever is available. Thus it was that Franc Gorenc photographed this sequence of an individual capturing and consuming a lizard.

       Franc has often expressed to me that while he is happy when he obtains a great portrait of a bird, he is far more satisfied when he can capture a sequence of the bird acting out its life. A record of behavioural detail is what pleases him most and he often dedicates countless hours to shooting hundreds of frames in the hope of recording such an event.
       I think all would agree that with this Western Cattle Egret at Club Amigo Marea del Portillo in eastern Cuba he has succeeded splendidly.
       As always I am indebted to Franc for his enthusiasm in providing me with pictures to grace my blog; he is indeed a dedicated and skilled photographer, and a fine gentleman. It is my pleasure to call him my friend.


  1. Oh very nice pictures. I love the pictures with violet flowers.
    Today I publish the Western Cattle Egret too, but in Africa lol
    Good day David and happy holidays

  2. Stunning post David,love the shots around Cattle,I also like the shots with the Lizard.
    I would also like to wish you both a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Take care.
    John and Sue

  3. Beautiful bird. I need one to help catch the lizards and grasshoppers from my garden. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you & love ones!

  4. Franc got some nice pics of the egret nabbing the lizard...........

  5. Hi. Lovely photos of beautiful bird. Merry Christmas.

  6. they are indeed lovely photos that your friend has taken. it's a good thing to have a several photos of a bird doing it's thing as it gives us more idea what they are like.

  7. Franc has done a great job again, David, but I suspect that you were the agent that made it possible! It is truly amazing how the Cattle Egret is spreading its range. We're still not seeing a lot of them in UK but, like Little Egrets and (more recently) Great White Egret, I suspect that it will not be many years before they become a regular sight in UK.

    I hope that you are now all geared up for the festive season. Best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Hi David.

    Beautiful pictures of the Heron.
    Fun with food in his mouth.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  9. Nice work with the camera David. Like you say, a very successful species and when I have seen them, very tolerant of humans. I like the shot of one at the feet of the cattle; shows how tiny they are in real life.

    They haven't quite made it in any numbers to the UK yet, but like Little and Greats, I expect they will.

    1. It doesn't really make any difference but the animals are horses not cattle.

  10. Hi Both, another super interesting post with the Cattle Egret, a bird I have only ever seen in Africa, but I'm sure it won't be long before they become like the Little and Great White Egrets being seen a lot more regularly. Wonderful set of images by Franc, especially with the Lizard. Hope you both have wonderful Christmas and look forward to another years birding and posts, Regards John

  11. Cattle Egrets introduced themselves to Australia too, and are now widespread.

  12. A familiar bird (for us here in HK) in an unfamiliar setting...

  13. Hello!!!.. :-))) Very nice pictures.. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… Cheers..

  14. The cattle egret is a rarity in the Netherlands.
    Beautiful pictures could make you think David. My compliments.
    For you and all your loved ones a merry Christmas and all the good and beautiful for 2017.

    Dear greetings. Helma