As this cute little Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) foraged along the Lee County Manatee Viewing Area, the old Wendy’s commercial of “Where’s the Beef?” kept running through my head! Then I thought to myself, “Well, he’s not far from where he should be … at least the sea cows (Manatees) are nearby!”
As it’s name implies, the Cattle Egret maintains a special relationship with cattle, which extends to other large grazing mammals. The cattle egret removes ticks and flies from cattle and consumes them. This benefits both species, but it has been implicated in the spread of tick-borne animal diseases. Here are a couple of images I captured of this little guy:
During the breeding season, the cattle egret gets some buff-colored plumes, as this guy shows us, compared to the otherwise totally white plumes of the nonbreeding season.