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Egretta garzetta (White egret or white egret), difference with the heron egretta alba and cattle egret, description and characteristics of the egretta.
Common name: little egret, white egret, white egret
Scientific name: Egretta garzetta
Differences between Little Egret and Heron
Due to its appearance, it is often confused with the cattle egret and, as a matter of confusion with the names, it is sometimes confused with the white heron (its scientific name isEgretta alba). A keen eye would never confuse onewhite egretwith aegretta alba(with a great white heron!). On the contrary, even a careful eye, if it does not pay attention to the colors of the beak and legs, could confuse thelittle egret(Egretta garzetta) with a cattle egret. For all the differences, and the images, please visit the page dedicated to the cattle egret.
The photo above shows agreat white heron(left) and onewhite egret(To the right). The white heron has a yellow beak in winter but can be easily distinguished because it is larger in size than the smaller egret.
Egretta garzetta: characteristics
The egretta garzetta is the smallest of theherons. This aquatic bird is about 55-65 cm long, with a weight between 350 and 650 gr. Its wingspan is between 85 and 95 cm.
It is also known aswhite egrettaorwhite egretfor its entirely white plumage. It is characterized by:
- long black beak
- slender and black legs
- the underside of the legs is yellowish (visible in flight)
- Yellow iris
- On the nape and at the base of the neck, during the mating and reproduction period, it has some very long ornamental feathers (nuptial plumage).
- It does not have sexual dimorphism even if themale egrettait tends to be slightly larger than the female egret.
Towards: it is a very silent heron, it emits a hoarse cry “aahh” or “kark” only when it is disturbed. It becomes louder and with slightly higher pitched sounds in the breeding period.
Hersupplyit is very varied: it feeds on everything it finds in the humid areas it colonizes. What does the egret eat? Small fish, insects, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles, snails, worms, spiders and even small birds. If necessary, it can also hunt small mammals.
The young are similar to the adults, only the legs are basically greenish. The juvenile form may have some of the greyish plumage.
Egretta garzetta: nest
L'white egrettait can nest on the ground, in the middle of reeds, aquatic vegetation, in the undergrowth but also on trees and rocks up to 20 meters high. Among the trees it prefers poplars, willows and, in general, tall trees. In Italy it nests in April.
The pair builds the nest together, using twigs, reeds and other occasional debris. Each nest accommodates from 3 to 5 eggs. The hatching is carried out by both the male and the female and lasts about 21 - 25 days. The offspring are fed for about 40 - 50 days.
Egretta garzetta: where she lives
Where does the white egret live? This little white heron (egretta garzetta) shares the same natural habitat as the great white heron (Egretta alba), that is, it lives in wetlands. Lagoons, water basins, along streams, marshy areas ... it prefers brackish water. It often lives in colonies with other herons.
It is present in almost the entire Mediterranean basin, in Africa, South Asia, Australia and Indonesia. In Italy theegretta garzetta it is found both as a settling nesting bird, regular migratory and partially wintering bird.
The populations who come to winter in our country come mainly from Eastern Europe.
The migratory populations go to nest above all in the Po Valley and then winter in Africa. The sedentary populations are present mainly in Sicily and in the wetlands along the coasts of Southern Italy.
The post-breeding migration to the wintering areas takes place from August to October, while the pre-breeding migration to the nesting areas takes place from the end of March to May.
Curiosity: for those who love stamps, this little heron appears on a French stamp issued in 1975. Theegretta garzetta is featured on a stamp from the Republic of Cape Verde in 2003.
If you are a fan of ornithology or you want to get closer to this sector, I can recommend a book where you can find all the species present in Italy or wintering in our country.
The book in question is titled "Guide to birds" was published in 2018 and collects more than 4,000 photographs to allow a good recognition of the species. For all information, I refer you to the official Amazon page:Guide to birds. I recommend buying on Amazon as in some bookstores it is offered for 70 euros, while on Amazon you buy on offer, with 33.15 euros and free shipping costs.
Other water birds in Italy:
- Gray heron
- Purple heron
- Mute swan