RSPB
Skip navigation
Join the RSPB

Help us give nature a home from £3 a month.

Conservation status: Introduced

Slightly smaller but much rarer than the little egret, cattle egrets are visiting the UK in increasing numbers. They often spend time close to livestock and grab insects and worms that their hooves disturb. Cattle egrets have yellow or greyish legs and a yellow beak, compared to the black legs (with yellow feet) and black beak of the little egret.

Illustrations

Overview

Latin name

Bubulcus ibis

Family

Bitterns and herons (Ardeidae)

Where to see them

As their name suggests, cattle egrets tend to associate with livestock as the animals' hooves disturb invertebrate prey. Most likely to be seen in the south of England and Wales. In winter 2007/2008, a large influx of cattle egrets occurred in the UK, with the largest numbers in south-west England, though birds did get as far north as Scotland. This influx led to the first ever pair breeding successfully - in Somerset.

When to see them

Could be seen at any time of year, though birds congregate in flocks during winter.

What they eat

Insects and worms

Population

EuropeUK breeding*UK wintering*UK passage*
--c100-

Distribution