Birds by Name – E
Egrets are basically types of Heron and the distinction between Egret and Heron is often blurred.
There is the Great White Egret, Ardea alba, similar in size to the Grey Heron but white with yellow beak and black feet. Unlike the Grey Heron they catch fish by skewering them with the sharp, pointed beak.
The Little Egret, Egretta garzetta, is a smaller, white Heron with a black beak, black legs and yellow feet.
The Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis, is slightly smaller than the Little Egret and rather than fish, it feeds on insects and worms, often from the hooves of the animals upon which they usually sit.
The Great Egret, Ardea alba, is a large member of the Heron family and is found in most tropical and warm temperate areas all over the world. It is also variously known as the Common Egret, Large Egret or Great White Heron.
It has all white plumage, stands about one metre high and has a wingspan of up to 170 centimetres.
Males and females are almost identical.
The fairly long bill is orange during the non-breeding season and darker during the breeding season.
The Great Egret catches its food by spearing it with its long, pointed bill and feeds on fish, frogs, small mammals and the occasional small reptiles or insects.
In flight, Egrets scrunch up their necks which makes it a bit easier to distinguish them from storks, cranes, ibises, and spoonbills, all of which extend their necks when flying.
Species: A. alba
The Egyptian Goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus, is a member of the family Anatidae and is in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae. It is pale brown and grey with very distinctive dark brown eye-patches and has white wing patches in flight.
It was originally introduced from the Nile valley into many areas as an ornamental wildfowl species. Naturally, many escaped into the wild and subsequently bred in large numbers. These large feral populations are considered a pest in many countries.
The Egyptian Goose mainly eats seeds, leaves, grasses, and plant stems but will also occasionally feast on locusts, worms or other small animals.
Species: A. aegyptiacus
Exclamatory Paradise Whydah
The Exclamatory Paradise Whydah, Vidua interjecta, is a species of bird in the Viduidae family, which also includes the Indigo birds. And like other Indigo birds, it is a brood parasite and lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. Unlike the Cuckoo, however, it does not destroy the eggs in the host nest.
This is the female of the species. The breeding male is quite a colourful bird with an absolutely huge tail which quadruples its length.
Species: V. interjecta