The Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia) is a medium-sized heron.
This species, as its name implies, it is intermediate in size between the Great Egret and smaller white egrets like the Little Egret and Cattle Egret, though nearer to the Little than the Great.
Distribution / Range
It is a resident breeder from east Africa across tropical southern Asia to Australia.
Nesting / Breeding
It often nests in colonies with other herons, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. Two to five eggs are laid, the clutch size varying with region.
It is about 90cm tall with all white plumage, generally dark legs and a thickish yellow bill. Breeding birds may have a reddish or black bill, greenish yellow gape skin, more loose filamentous plumes on their breast and back, and dull yellow or pink on their upper legs (regional variations). Males and females look alike.
Diet / Feeding
The Intermediate Egret stalks its prey methodically in shallow coastal or fresh water, including flooded fields. It eats fish, crustaceans and insects.
Identify from Great Egret
The non-breeding colours are similar, but the Intermediate is smaller, with neck length a little less than body length, a slightly domed head, and a shorter, thicker bill. The Great Egret has a noticeable kink near the middle of its neck, and the top of its longer bill nearly aligns with the flat top of its head.
Close up, the bare skin of the Great Egret’s gape line extends in a dagger shape behind the eye, while the Intermediate’s is less pointed and ends below the eye. The Intermediate tends to stalk upright with neck extended forward. The Great is more patient, often adopting a sideways-leaning “one-eyed” stance.
Identify from Little Egret
Little Egrets have yellow-soled feet. They often run after fish in shallow water. Breeding birds have long nuptial plumes on the back of their heads.
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