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Egret: Great white

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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richardharris
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Egret: Great white

Unread postby richardharris » Sat Jul 01, 2006 1:10 am

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In non-breeding colours

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MarkWildDog
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Re: Great white egret

Unread postby MarkWildDog » Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:27 am

Great White Egret
Casmerodius Albus

This tall bird is by far the largest of this species in the region. Averaging in at 95 cm, but even up to a massive 101 cm. The great white egret differs when in breeding. It is generally very large, with a yellow bill, black legs and feet. They have a slow flight, neck is diagnostically retracted. In breeding the bird exhibits long ornamental black plumes, both males and females. Also a black bill, greenish lores are also present. The great white egret can be distinguished from the much smaller yellowbilled egret by its heavier and longer bill, the gape extending all the way to the behind of the eye and the neck is slightly thinnner. These birds are primarily solitary, but often congregate during breeding seasons. Their nests are a flat fashion and are often found nesting with other herons. Nests are usually 30-40 off the ground, and 1-6 eggs are usually laid by the female, of turquoise colour. Great white egrets feed in shallow water, feeding on fish, frogs and insects. Mostly spearing their prey. Their hunting technique is to wait motionless and then slowly start stalking their victims.

Females and males are alike. Where juveniles represent the non breeding type. Their habitat ranges from lagoons, estuaries, to freshwater dams and lakes. Along with the other egrets, this species is also common and their call is a low 'waark'. Found in all of south africa, except the karoo and northern cape areas.

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Nyala
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Nyala » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:26 am

I saw this bird in KTP in June, but I am not sure what bird it is. Could it be a juvenile Cattle Egret? (Dark legs) The neck looks too long.
As per my Sasol book, it could be a Great Egret, but their habitat does not include KTP.

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Larger Image: http://i38.tinypic.com/10wmiqp.jpg

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Nyala » Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:15 am

wildtuinman wrote:Nyala, it looks like a non breeding male Great Egret. Yellow bill and black legs.


Thanks WTM, I thought so when I saw it, but now looking through my Sasol 3rd Edition, it says that the Great Egret's habitat does not include Kgalagadi. That had me looking for a new ID.

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wildtuinman
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:30 am

it could be breeding Yellow-Billed Egret, but the dark line below eye extends to past the eye it would seem in this picture. That to me points to Great Egret.

Is this the only picture you have of it?
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Nyala » Thu Sep 25, 2008 10:56 am

I have this one: http://i38.tinypic.com/2qvwqbt.jpg
but it's not very clear.
The Yellow-Billed Egret has yellow upper legs, which I cannot see on this one.

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Sep 25, 2008 11:15 am

It would seem that when breeding the tibiotarsus becomes a bit darker, Roberts even makes mention of it being red.

In comparison with what seems to be a Cape Turtle Dove (28cm) one can decide whether it is the size of the +- 1m tall Great Egret or more in the vicinity of the 70cm mark of that of the Yellow-Billed Egret. I have yet to tick the Yellow-Billed Egret so I can't comment much on its appearance in the field. But I can say that I have seen a picture on Roberts showing a breeding adult with what appears to be complete dark legs.

In the second photo the line below the eye seems completely absent. Thus the impression on the first photo of that of a eye line could merely have been shadow. (This shows the importance of having more than one photo to id from.)
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:43 pm

My gut feeling is still with Great Egret though.

I will consult my other guides (Newman's and Robert's field guide) this evening to see what the distribution of this bird points out to us.

I still think that eye line is a thing to consider strongly in favour of Great Egret. So too the coloration of the legs, size of the bird especially the length of the bill and neck.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Thu Sep 25, 2008 2:59 pm

Image

Heres a Great White-Egret from Pilanesberg...Looks like your mystery Egret.

KTP, is out of range for both species, so either way you have a special sighting here...I've seen a few Yellow-Billed Egrets, and their bills are noticably shorter...I'd go with Great white, especially with size comparision with the cape-turtle doves.

P.S....WTM, Yellow-Billed Egrets at Nylsvlei NR(Vogelvontein end), Roodeplaat Dam and found them breeding at Beaulieu Bird Sanctuary amongst the Cattle and Little Egrets. :D Not bad spots to check out.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Fri Sep 26, 2008 11:57 am

Great white egrets are a lot bigger than the others mentioned Nyala. You should be able to tell from that. KTP could be a stop over for waterbirds and they don't obey the distribution map rules. Have seen a black headed heron on more than one occasion at a waterhole in KTP. Maybe just 'refuelling'. You got a great sighting, sorry for the pun.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Nyala » Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:01 pm

Rusty Justy wrote:[img]
KTP, is out of range for both species, so either way you have a special sighting here...I've seen a few Yellow-Billed Egrets, and their bills are noticably shorter...I'd go with Great white, especially with size comparision with the cape-turtle doves.


Thanks Rusty, I'll go with the Great White Egret.

James

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Nyala
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Nyala » Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:06 pm

Bush Baptist wrote:KTP could be a stop over for waterbirds and they don't obey the distribution map rules. Have seen a black headed heron on more than one occasion at a waterhole in KTP. Maybe just 'refuelling'. You got a great sighting, sorry for the pun.


Hi BB, I am somewhat cheesed off with myself re the the bird sightings we had in KTP. I was not aware that the Great White Egret is not normally seen there. The same was with other birds we saw, I am still trying to id them!
I need to brush up on the bird list before we get there.

James

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby pantera leo » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:41 pm

Hey it's me again could you please help me ID this Egret? I suppose it's a parent and its young?

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Rusty Justy
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Rusty Justy » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:54 pm

Thats a Great White Egret and a Immature Purple Heron :D
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Batmad » Sat Oct 31, 2009 2:43 pm

Agreed :thumbs_up:
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