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Little Egret

Little Egret
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Scientific Classification
Genus: Egretta
Species: garzetta
Binomial name
Egretta garzetta

The Little Egret , Egretta garzetta, is a small white heron. It is the Old World counterpart to the very similar New World Snowy Egret.

Adults have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. In breeding season, adults have shaggy plumes.

Their breeding habitat is large inland wetlands and coastal wetlands in warm temperate parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

In warmer locations, some are permanent residents; northern populations, including all European birds, migrate to Africa and southern Asia. They may wander north after the breeding season, and it is this behaviour which has led presumably led to this egret's range expansion. It now breeds in the Bahamas, and in Great Britain, where it was regarded as rare until the late twentieth century but is now quite commonly seen.

These birds stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. They eat fish, crustaceans, and insects.

At one time, the plumes of the Little Egret were in demand for decorating hats. Hunting for this purpose reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels. Now it is protected by law, and the bird's population has increased strongly.