Wildlife conservation and education.

Conservation & Education

Wildlife conservation and education are essential to raise awareness and protect many species. Learn more about wildlife conservation initiatives and how you can help in your backyard.

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Wildlife prints by Diana Andersen

Wildlife Photography

The art of wildlife photography is a journey that evolves with your skill. Elevate your skills and unlock the secrets to capturing breathtaking moments in nature. Let your creativity soar as you master the art of wildlife photography with our expert guidance.

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Wildlife Tourism

Ethical wildlife tourism can benefit the conservation of some species by providing funding and education. By engaging in responsible wildlife experiences, you directly support the conservation efforts for endangered species while raising awareness about the challenges they confront.

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Birds

The unique Pink and Grey Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla) is one of Australia’s most recognisable birds. Full of personality, Galahs are known for their comical and raucous behaviour.

Galah images habitat behaviour & breeding

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Amphibians

The slender tree frog (Litoria adelaidensis), is one of Australia’s most attractive frogs, They often cling to standing reeds.

Motorbike Frog (Litoria moorei) on a paperbark tree branch.

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Mammals

Wildlife conservation and education are essential to raise awareness and protect many species. Learn more about wildlife conservation initiatives and how you can help in your backyard.

Male Western Grey Kangaroos fighting.

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Sub-adult cheetah in the late afternoon light at Mashatu Game Reserve.

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Red-tailed Black Cockatoo print by Diana Andersen

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Elephant calf at the waterhole.

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Birds

Cattle Egret

The Cattle egret is a small, stocky white egret that follows livestock and large herbivores, feeding on insects disturbed by the foraging habits of the animals that give it their name.
Home 9 Project 9 Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

(Ardea ibis)

Description and Range

The Cattle egret originated in Africa, Spain and Portugal but is now widespread throughout Asia, Europe, the US, South America and Australia. Two subspecies, the eastern (Ardea i. coromanda) and the western (Ardea i. ibis), are recognised, but some authorities identify them as separate species. 

Predominantly a plain white egret for most of the year, in the breeding season, both sexes develop elaborate buff-coloured breeding plumes on the head and neck and down their lower back. They also have diffuse buff colouring on their chest, and the eyes may appear red. The male is larger than the female, with more intense buff colouration. The bill, which is usually yellow in adults, develops a red flush, and the legs, typically dark, take on a yellowish colouration, sometimes flushed with red.

Cattle Egret Behaviour

These small, stocky white egrets follow livestock and large herbivores, feeding on insects disturbed by the foraging habits of the animals that give them their name. In Africa, they follow elephants and buffalo and other herd animals, staying close to the feet of the grazing animals or riding on their backs so they can feed on ticks and other parasites. However, they have adapted to foraging alongside cattle in rural and urban farming areas. In addition, they sometimes follow farm machinery turning over soil in preparation for planting. 

Diet and Breeding

Cattle egrets form loose flocks, often feeding in small groups. Their diet consists of anything that can be disturbed by the foraging livestock, such as insects, invertebrates, frogs, small reptiles and birds. Unlike other egrets and herons, they spend little time in the water, preferring drier habitats. However, their nesting colonies are often on small islands, with the surrounding water offering some protection.

Like other waterbirds, nesting colonies can be crowded affairs, often with hundreds of nests nearby, including nests from other species. Fighting and raucous squabbling are common amongst nesting pairs and males fending off the approach of rival males. Males collect the nesting materials, while females do the nest construction. Nests are shallow dishes, approximately 40cm across, and clutches are generally two to four eggs. Both parents share incubation duties that last for 23 days.

Cattle Egret chicks develop rapidly and are voracious feeders. Within a couple of weeks of hatching, they begin to climb around the nest and eagerly await the arrival of a parent with food. The larger the chicks get, the more aggressive the competition for food becomes. The flashy breeding plumage of the adults becomes progressively more shabby by the chicks grabbing at the head and beaks of the parents. The precarious nature of the nests and the frenzied feeding behaviour result in chicks often falling from the nest, where they will perish if they cannot reach the nest again. Chick mortality can be high where food is not abundant, particularly in nests with three or four chicks. However, in areas where food supplies are good, pairs often fledge three to four chicks. Successful chicks fledge at 30 days and are independent within a couple of weeks.

Other Names for the Cattle Egret 

Elephant Bird, Buff Heron, Cow Bird

Size

Length: 46-56 cm. Weight: 270-510 g

Range

Ardea i. ibis – Europe, south-west Asia, Africa and the Americas

Ardea i. coromanda – South and East Asia, Australia, New Zealand

Little Corellas roosting at sunset.

Cattle Egret Photo Gallery

Images in this gallery are available for purchase as downloads or prints by awarded wildlife photographer Diana Andersen from dianaandersenimages.com. For limited edition fine art prints, visit our print shop. For royalty-free wildlife stock, visit our portfolio on Alamy or iStock.

Morning Flight. Limited edition signed print by Diana Andersen

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Limited edition wildlife prints from award-winning photographer Diana Andersen. The perfect gift for wildlife lovers.

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