Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The cattle egret, Bubulcus ibis, is an old world species that has successfully colonized the Americas, appearing in South America within this century and reaching the U. S. A. in Florida during the 1950s. This bird is now found on all continents but Antarctica. In Utah, the species was first seen in the 1960s, and is now considered an uncommon summer resident. It is found in wetlands and grassy pastures, where, as its common name would suggest, small flocks are seen at the feet of livestock capturing insects, especially grasshoppers, disturbed by the large animals. This egret also consumes crayfish, and occasionally small frogs and fishes.

Breeding, which usually occurs in colonies, takes place during March, April, and May. Nests are built in trees near water's edge, or sometimes in reedbeds, and are constructed of sticks, dead reeds, or other available vegetation. Usually four or five pale blue eggs are incubated alternately by both parents for 21 to 25 days. Young can fly after 40 days, but remain dependent on the parents for another three weeks.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder's handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Shuster, Inc., New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • Baicich, P. J., and C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs, and nestlings of North American Birds, Second Ed. Academic Press, San Diego. 347 pp.