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Little Egret Egretta garzetta

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The Little Egret is a species closely related to the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), which replaces that species in the Old World. It is therefore quite unexpected that this species has begun establishing itself in the New World, often side by side with the Snowy Egret, and that competitive exclusion has not won out for either one of these species yet where they are together. It may be that ecologically the two species are not as similar as their outward appearance may suggest. Their identification is tricky although the Little Egret tends to show a longer and thicker bill, grayish or greenish loral skin, often grayish-yellow feet rather than bright yellow, and rather than a fluffy set of head plumes it has two stiff plumes on the nape. The Little Egret first started to breed in the New World on the island of Barbados in the mid 1990s, where they are still breeding. More recently they have been detected on Antigua, and are thought to be breeding there in small numbers as well. Interestingly there are photos of several birds from Antigua showing characters of Little x Snowy egret hybrids, perhaps during the early establishment of the species in an area where Snowy is common hybridization occurs. Little Egrets are also regularly observed in Trinidad & Tobago, and likely breed somewhere in that country although this is not yet confirmed.

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© Peter Paul Kellogg

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  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/litegr