The adult Little egret is 55-65 cm long with a 88-106 cm wingspan, and weighs 350-550 g. Its plumage is all white. The subspecies garzetta has long black legs with yellow feet and a slim black bill. Breeding adults have two long nape plumes and gauzy plumes on the back and breast, and the bare skin between the bill and eyes becomes red or blue. Juveniles are similar to non-breeding adults but have greenish-black legs and duller yellow feet. Has yellow feet and a bare patch of grey-green skin between the bill and eyes. The subspecies nigripes differs in having yellow skin between the bill and eye, and blackish feet.
Habitat and Distribution
Its breeding distribution is in wetlands in warm temperate to tropical parts of Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. In warmer locations, most birds are permanent residents; northern populations, including many European birds, migrate to Africa and southern Asia. They may also wander north in late summer after the breeding season, which may have assisted its current range expansion.
Little egrets eat fish, insects, amphibians, crustaceans, and reptiles. They stalk their prey in shallow water, often running with raised wings or shuffling its feet to disturb small fish. They may also stand still and wait to ambush prey.
The Little Egret nests in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs or in a reedbed or bamboo grove. In some locations such as the Cape Verde Islands, they nest on cliffs. The three to five eggs are incubated by both adults for 21-25 days to hatching. They are oval in shape and have a pale, non-glossy, blue-green colour.
Calls and Songs
Little egrets are mostly silent but make various croaking and bubbling calls at their breeding colonies and produce a harsh alarm call when disturbed.