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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Little Egret

Afrikaans name: Kleinwitreier

Little Egret at Amanzimtoti

Little Egret

Photo © Steven Herbert

Egretta garzetta

Despite the name of Little Egret this bird is definitely not the smallest of the herons and egrets. It grows to a height of around 60 cm and weighs 400 to 500 grams. They have an all white plumage with a slender black bill and yellow feet. During the breeding season the adults grow plumes on their head and neck.

Little Egrets eat a variety of foods including fish, frogs, small reptiles and crustaceans. They normally do their hunting in shallow water where they either keep still to try and ambush their prey, or they shuffle their feet or run to try and flush out potential prey.

Video © Mark Barkan, Avibirds.com

Pairs make their nest out of sticks. It may be placed in a tree or bush, or even in a reedbed. They normally nest in colonies, often in close proximity to other species. Between 3 and 5 eggs are laid and are tended to by both adults.

Little Egrets can be found in suitable habitat across most of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as southern Europe, southern Asia and the Middle East. In South Africa it can be found in most areas with water habitats. They are not shy and can often be seen stalking prey along the waters edge.

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References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: O.P.M. Prozesky - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 37

A First Guide to South African Birds - 6th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1959 - Page: 172

A First Guide to South African Birds - 7th Edition - Author: Leonard Gill - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 172

African Wildlife - A photographic safari - Author: Nigel and Wendy Dennis - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 94

Birds of Southern Africa - Kruger National Park - Author: Kenneth Newman - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 18

Birds of the South Western Cape - Author: Joy Frandsen - Year Published: - Page: 22

Birds of the Transvaal - Author: Tarboton, Kemp and Kemp - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 16

Collins Illustrated Checklist - Birds of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Ber van Perlo - Year Published: 1999 - Page: 9

Common Birds of the North Coast - Author: Bing Comrie - Year Published: 2005 - Page: 6

Everyone's Guide to South African Birds - Author: John Sinclair and John Mendelsohn - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 89

Field Guide to the Birds of Kruger National Park - Author: Ian Sinclair and Ian Whyte - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 28

Ian Sinclair's Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa - 2nd Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair - Year Published: 1988 - Page: 54

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 72

Newman's Birds of Southern Africa - 7th Edition - Author: Ken Newman - Year Published: 2000 - Page: 72

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Dr. Austin Roberts - Year Published: 1949 - Page: 21

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 3rd Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1975 - Page: 30

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: McLachlan and Liversidge - Year Published: 1981 - Page: 35

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 5th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1985 - Page: 49

Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa - 6th Edition - Author: Gordon Lindsay Maclean - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 49

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 1st Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 1993 - Page: 58

Sasol Birds of Southern Africa - 4th Edition - Author: Ian Sinclair et al. - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 62

Southern African Bird Names Explained - Author: Charles Clinning - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 51

The Coastal Guide of South Africa - Author: Jacana Media - Year Published: 2007 - Page: 102

The Herons Handbook - Author: James Hancock and James Kushlan - Year Published: 1984 - Page: 126

Wading Birds of the World - Revised edition - Author: Eric and Richard Soothill - Year Published: 1989 - Page: 44

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Year Published: 2011 - Page: 32

List of South African Birds

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