Monday, April 26, 2021

Eastern Cattle Egret

There is some disagreement among authorities over whether the cattle egret is one species (Bubulvud ibis), with two subspecies, or two species: the western cattle egret (B. i. ibis, the nominate subspecies); and the eastern cattle egret (B. i. coromandus). The eastern cattle egret breeds in South Asia, Eastern Asia and Australasia and the western cattle egret breeds in the rest of the range, including Western Asia, Europe, Africa and North and South America. 
This cattle egret, off Gentry Road near the Salton Sea, is in breeding plumage traditional for the western bird. 

This cattle egret, off Vendel Road, is in non-breeding plumage.
Non-breeding adults look similar. It has white plumage, a yellow bill and gray/yellow legs. In breeding season the western cattle egret develops orange/buff plumes on the back, breast and crown and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a short time before pairing. 
This cattle egret has eastern plumage and the legs look like they are just starting to turn red. 

Fluffing up its plumage. 
The eastern cattle egret breeding plumage is more extensive, the orange/buff extends to the cheeks and throat and the plumes are more golden. 

All About Birds has a photo of the eastern cattle egret in breeding plumage and it looks very similar to the photo of a cattle egret I took Saturday at the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR, unit 1, on Vendel Road. So did I see an eastern cattle egret outside of its range? 

1 comment:

  1. The peachy pastel colors are so unusual. It's like a watercolor bird. So pretty.