The Cattle Egret breeds in all but four of the contiguous U.S. states, but breeding is concentrated in eastern Texas and Gulf states east to Florida. The species nests in a variety of habitats and vegetation. It has been recorded in coastal barrier, marsh and dredge spoil islands, islands and edges of lakes, reservoirs, quarries and wetlands, swamps, and riparian or upland woodlands. Cattle Egrets initiate breeding within rookeries established by earlier nesting species and therefore are limited by the presence of colonizable heronries and availability of nest sites within them.
Cattle Egrets forage around livestock and other large animals but will also follow tractors and other machinery and catch prey flushed by their movement. Original habitat was short grass meadows periodically flooded in central Africa. Nesting vegetation can include medium to tall upland trees, low trees or shrubs in swamps, reed vegetation in marshes or on island habitats. Cattle Egrets may participate in brood parasitism. The species’ eggs have been found in the nests of Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets and Great Egrets.
For more information on Cattle Egrets, including identification tips, visit their page on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
- Krebs, E. A., D. Riven-Ramsey, and W. Hunte. 1994. The colonization of Barbados by Cattle Egrets (~Bubulcus ibis~) 1956-1990. Colon. Waterbirds 17:86-90.
- Telfair II, R. C. 1983. The cattle egret: a Texas focus and world view. Dept. of Wildl. and Fish. Sci., Texas A&M Univ., College Station.
- Thompson, B. C., J. A. Jackson, J. Burger, L. A. Hill, E. M. Kirsch, and J. L. Atwood. 1997. Least Tern (Sternula antillarum).in A. Poole, editor. The Birds of North America Online Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca.
- Siegfried, W. R. 1978. Habitat and the modern range expansion of the Cattle Egret. Pages 315-324 in A. Sprunt Iv, J. C. Ogden, and S. Winckler, editors. Wading birds. Natl. Audubon Soc. res. rep. no. 7, New York.