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2/14/2012 OT


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The Cattle Egret is a cosmopolitan species of heron (family Ardeidae) found in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate zones. Despite similarities inplumage to the egrets of the genus Egretta, it is more closely related to the herons, Ardea. Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonisedmuch of the rest of the world. It is a stocky white bird adorned with buff plumesin the breeding season, and nests in colonies, usually near bodies of water and often with other wading birds. The nest is a platform of sticks in a tree or shrub. Unlike most other herons, it feeds in relatively dry grassy habitats, oftenaccompanying cattle or other large mammals, since it catches insects and small vertebrates disturbed by these animals. Some populations of the Cattle Egret are migratory and others show post-breeding dispersal. The adult Cattle Egret has few predators, but birds or mammals may raid its nests, and chicks may be lost to starvation, calcium deficiency or disturbance from other large birds. This species removes ticks and flies from cattle, but it can be a safety hazard at airfields, and has been implicated in the spread of tick-borne animal diseases.

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