Western Cattle Egret

(Bubulcus ibis)

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5B, N5N - Secure Breeding and Nonbreeding

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed

Western Cattle Egret
Photo by L Bergstrom

The legs and bill are yellowish-orange.



19 to 21 in length

36 wingspan




Similar Species


Marshes, agricultural fields



Spring and fall









Rare migrant, does not breed in Minnesota



The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map



Aves (birds)


Pelecaniformes (pelicans, herons, ibises, and allies)


Ardeidae (herons, egrets, and bitterns)


Ardeinae (typical herons and egrets)


Bubulcus (cattle egrets)


Subordinate Taxa

Seychelles Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis seychellarum)

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis ibis)


In 1988, McAllan and Bruce split the eastern and western races of Cattle Egret, reclassifying the former to the Bubulcus coromandus. The split was not widely accepted for a long time. Finally, in 2023, the American Ornithological Society accepted the split, and in short order, so did most other sources.



Ardea bubulcus

Ardea ibis

Ardea ibis ibis

Ardeola ibis

Bubulcus ibis ibis

Bulbucus ibis (misspelling)

Egretta ibis










Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this bird.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

E Barth

Western Cattle Egret  


Hanging with the cows



L Bergstrom

Hung around approx 3 hours in our yard and neighbors.  

Western Cattle Egret

Western Cattle Egret   Western Cattle Egret
Western Cattle Egret  


MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos








Cattle Egret
JMC Nature Photos

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret
Darlene Boucher

Cattle Egret

Bubulcus ibis
Dinis Cortes

Bubulcus ibis



Visitor Videos

Share your video of this bird.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.

Avi Birds

Cattle Egret [Bubulcus Ibis]
Jan 11, 2023


In this video, we learn about the cattle egret.

Other Videos

Cattle Egrets with Cattles
Menora James


Uploaded on Jul 8, 2011

The Egrets mostly followed the cattle. This I observed during my holidays. In this video you can see two egrets following a calf where ever he went. I think they are near them to eat the insects coming out of the grass when the cattle eat it.

I really enjoyed observing how they behaved and waited patiently around the calf. A few captures I missed and they were hilarious. They never left the cattle and seem to be attracted by a magnetic force !!

You can also see that they get on well with each otrher.

Cattle Egret - Bubulcus ibis

The Cattle Egret is a cosmopolitan species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Bubulcus, although some authorities regard its two subspecies as full species, the Western Cattle Egret and the Eastern Cattle Egret.Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe.

The bird is called a Cattle Egret because it is mostly seen with grazing cattle, stalking energetically alongside the animals , running around them and in between their legs, all for seizing insects that are disturbed by the movement of cattle.

They spends most of its time in meadows or other open areas., Every day, the Cattle Egret flies to a cattle herd, and spends the day feeding on bugs, spiders and other small animals. A delicacy for the Egrets is locusts -- when locusts swarms appear in steppes and meadows, a lot of Cattle Egrets are sure to arrive, too. They also have no fear of humans.

Birds that feed around cattle's feet get more insects than those that feed elsewhere. The birds also sometimes sit on the animal's back and look around for possible prey, or pick off ticks from its back. Cattle don't seem to mind the presence of Cattle Egrets.

This species differs from other Egrets in both appearance and behaviour.

The Cattle Egret looks for food in meadows, Breeds and roosts in trees usually close to freshwater. Feeds in shallow wetlands, especially rice-paddies, but may also feed in dry grasslands.

These birds are medium-sized, reaching a length of 48-53 cm, with a wingspan of a little less than 1 meter.The bird has a short, muscular neck and when walking, the Egret looks clumsy, unlike the other Egret species that are always elegant and majestic.

In winter, both the sexes appear almost identical, with a creamy plumage, while the females' tends to be a bit lighter.

During the mating period, Cattle Egret males grow a spectacular yellowish-orange feathers on their heads, chest and back, while the beak becomes almost red. The males, who are usually quite passive, become very loud and aggressive. The male finds a secluded place and starts showing off by stretching the neck and wings. About 10 females observe the male for quite some time, and later the male can choose one of them to mate with. After copulation, the pair finds a place for nesting -- small trees, bushes or water plants. Both the parents incubate eggs, and the chicks hatch after 24 days. Thirty days after hatching, the young Egrets start flying, and in 15 more days they become completely independent, and having a life expectancy of about 13 years.

Cattle Egrets live in flocks of up to 20 specimen. . In the evening the group comes together again and finds a place to drink. It's interesting that Cattle Egrets don't mind other bird colonies in their territory, and there can be up to 100 bird nests in a single tree.

BTO Bird ID - Cattle Egret


Published on Dec 16, 2015

A white heron in the UK is likely to be a Little or Great White Egret. Occasionally Cattle Egrets turn up, and some even stay to breed. How can you pick one of these wanderers out?

cattle egret
Wim Spronk


Published on Jun 10, 2013

Strange behaviour of Cattle Egret. It moves its head from side to side with a strange movement of the neck. Could it be that it is gauging the distance to its prey?Like owls and shore birds do? But it does it while it is not hunting as well.

Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) HD Video Clip 1/1
Tim Siggs


Published on Aug 4, 2015

The cattle Egret is a very familiar bird of open country, especially as the name implies, where livestock exist. It is a widespread species in many other countries including Asia, Europe and Africa. In Winter, the plumage is totally White however, in breeding plumage, the head and neck becomes orange. The Cattle Egret breeds communally in dense colonies which are both noisy and smelly. These birds were filmed in the Lockyer Valley in South East Queensland.

Cattle egret eating ticks
Lynette Rudman


Published on Jun 30, 2016

Watch how this Western Cattle Egret pulls ticks off a cow that is resting and chewing her cud, by Lynette Rudman.



Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this bird.


This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

E Barth

Location: Elizabeth MN

Hanging with the cows

Western Cattle Egret
L Bergstrom

Location: Clarks Grove, MN

Hung around approx 3 hours in our yard and neighbors.

Western Cattle Egret

Kandice Shaw

Location: Austin, Mn  drainage ditch adjacent to grassy field in an industrial park

LeRoy Mattson

Location: Roseau MN

In my cattle yard.


Location: cattle pasture with a small river running through 1 mile south of Edgerton, MN on Pipestone County Road 1

I noticed the bird as I was driving by because the cattle were actively investigating the bird.  I turned around and came by again and the cattle had settled and the egret was standing in the long grass.

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings







Last Updated:

© MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.

About Us

Privacy Policy

Contact Us