Egrets

From the family of Ardeidae

 Egrets share this family with other birds Herons & Bittern which are all having the same body profiles and habitats. Bitterns. All these birds are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds and there are 64 recognized species in this family. Some Egrets joined other Herons to nest colonially on trees while a couple of species use reed beds.

The necks are able to kink in an s-shape, due to the modified shape of the sixth vertebrae. The neck is able to retract and extend, and is retracted during flight, unlike most other long-necked birds. To differentiate itself from the Herons, all Egrets are white in color except one species, the Pacific Reef Egret has two color morphs, the light and the dark. The percentage of each morph varies geographically. White morphs only occur in areas with coral beaches.

Most Egrets are seen in open country with wetlands but gather in large numbers in the rice fields and mudflats. There may be isolated individuals staying under the shelters on river banks. Apart from the variance in size between a couple very marginal, it is a daunting task to make a positive ID in the field as judgment by size is neither easy. I will attempt to list out some method commonly used to differentiate them.

Focusing on Egrets that can be seen in Malaysia:

 

s-Egret_intermediate.htm

       
  1. Cattle Egret  
       
  2. Chinese Egret

 

 
       
  3. Great Egret  
       
  4. Intermediate Egret  
       
  5. Little Egret  
       
  6.Pacific Reef-Heron  
       

The image of Egrets is very fixed in the minds of the local - they are all in white, large birds and very often flying in flocks. Of course not many people know that there are divided into so many species, large and small. For the bird watchers, this is a dull looking bird but with the challenging task of being able to ID each and every one properly as they are encountered.

I have not encountered any white morph of the Pacific Reef yet, the availability of pictures for this dark morph is a good

 ending for a page on white birds.

 

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