Western Reef Egret

Western Reef Egret near Delhi Public School Tapi at Surat:
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Scientific Name  : Egretta gularis
Classification:
Kingdom        : Animalia
Phylum           : Chordata
Class               : Aves
Order              : Pelecaniformes
Family            : Ardeidae
Genus             : Egretta
Species           : E. gularis

How do I identify this bird:
  • It is about 55-65 cms long.
  • Generally looks like the Little Egret but has two colour phases.
  • One is a pure white one which we have not shown in the photo gallery above.
  • The white phase is difficult to differentiate from the little egret. But the western reef egret is found on sea shores so we can suggest its identity.
  • In the photo gallery above we have shown the slaty blue one which has a white patch on its throat.
  • In the breeding season it has a backwardly drooping crest of two narrow plumes.
  • Its bill is longer and stouter than the Little Egret’s and usually appears very slightly down curved.
  • Legs are also slightly shorter and thicker looking. Bill is mainly yellowish or brownish yellow, but may be black when breeding.
  • Typically has greenish or yellowish loves although it can be greyish as that on a Little Egret’s.
Where do I find this Bird:
  • It is essentially a bird of the seacoast except this their habitat is not very different from the other egrets and herons.
  • Occasionally you can see them singly in the fields around DPS Tapi.
  • Also you can see them if you go ahead a few kilometres on the Dandi road near the coastal villages.
  • Sometimes you can find them in groups of three or more.
  • They mainly feed on fish, crustaceans and molluscs. In coastal areas, they regularly feed on mudskippers.
  • As you can see in the photo gallery they they wade into the shallow surf or in a rock pool left by the receding tide, crouching forward on flexed legs.
  • These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or stirring the water with their feet or flicking their wings to disturb prey; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. The neck is poised in a frozen position and the bill stubs into the prey when they come within range.
  • Laboratory studies done by scientists show that they are be capable of making corrections for refractions but the probability of missing increases when they are forced to strike at prey at very acute angles to the water surface. It is very interesting to observe them catch their prey.
  • They generally nest between March-July on twig platforms like other egrets on trees.
  •  Like other herons and egrets they make less sounds, sometimes making a low kwok or grating sounds when disturbed or near the nest.
Local Names :

Hindi : Kala bagla
Tamil : Karai kokku, Karpu kallavayan