Little egret

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The little egret (Egretta garzetta) is a small white heron belonging to the family Ardeidae. The little egret is distributed in Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Africa and Australia.

Taxonomy of little egret

  • Scientific Name: Egretta garzetta
  • Common Name: little egret
  • French: Aigrette garzette; German: Seidenreiher; Spanish: Garceta comĂșn;
  • Other names: Ardea Garzetta Linnaeus, 1766; yellow-footed egret;
  • Family: Ardeidae › Pelecaniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Linnaeus, 1766)
Egretta garzetta is closely related to E. thula (snowy egret) and E. gularis (western reef heron). The three recognized subspecies are: E. g. garzetta (Linnaeus, 1766), E. g. nigripes (Temminck, 1840) and E. g. immaculata (Gould, 1846).
Indian birds - Image of Little egret - Egretta garzetta
Indian birds - Little egret - Egretta garzetta


The little egret is a small bird, measuring 55 to 65 cm in height and weighing 300 to 700 grams. The wingspan is 85 to 105 cm. These egret species have white plumage. The breeding birds have two long nape plumes and also gauzy plumes on the breast and back. In breeding egrets the bare skin between the eyes and bill may become red or blue. The bill and legs are black and feet may be yellow in nominate species. The vocal call is “kark, kark” or “kre, kre”.


The little egret species inhabit shallow, fresh, brackish and saline water bodies such as ponds, lakes, streams, marshes, swamps, irrigation canals, pools, flooded grasslands, lagoons, paddy fields, fish culture ponds and salt pans.

Feeding habits

The little egret species feed on small fish, frogs, molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, small reptiles and small birds.


The little egret species nest on trees, mangroves, bushes, rocks or on the ground.


The subspecies E. g. garzetta occurs in Europe, Northwest Africa, China, Japan, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Philippines. The subspecies E. g. nigripes occurs in Indonesia and New Guinea. The subspecies E. g. immaculata occurs in Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand.

Movement Patterns

The little egret species disperse widely after breeding. The northern European and Asian populations are highly migratory moving southwards for wintering. The population in temperate and tropical regions are sedentary.

Status and conservation

The little egret species has a large range and the global population is estimated to be 640,000 to 3,100,000 individuals (2002). The species is threatened by wetland degradation, agricultural pollutants and human activity near breeding grounds. These egret species are also susceptible to avian influenza.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these egret species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Egretta garzetta
Species:E. garzetta
Binomial name:Egretta garzetta
Distribution:Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Europe, Africa and Australia;
Feeding habits:small fish, frogs, molluscs, crustaceans, aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, small reptiles and small birds;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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