large and/or 'intermediate' egret

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michaelrt71_1's picture
large and/or 'intermediate' egret

I am trying to differentiate between the large and intermedite egrets. I think it is large (photos below different birds, different spots), as I am not sure the intermediate gets this far south (Illawarra), but it does have a rounder head. I also think I am right in naming the little egret because of the darker bill.

and yet, sometimes the large egret is unmistakable due to is long skinny gangliness...

dwatsonbb's picture

Nice photos Michaael.

Egrets are not my strong point. I think the 1st photo is an Eastern Great Egret - the gape extending well behind the eye, and you 2nd is an Intermediate, with the gape not extending behind the eye.

And yes the Little Egret will have a black bill and black legs, where as the others will have some yellow on the legs.

Happy to be corrected, hopefully someone will conform for you shortly..

Dale Huonville, Tasmania

michaelrt71_1's picture

Thanks Dale,

The 'gape' comparison might clinch it. First photo is of a much bigger bird a long way off, the second quite close, so that might do it too.

Cheers for the help.

Alex Rogers
Alex Rogers's picture

Yeah, its hard sometimes with the Great Egret and Intermediate Egrets. Often the Great Egrets are unmistakeable like in your first pic, when they are full sized. Sheer size, neck length vs body, beak approx 2x head size, and gape extending well behind the eye are all quite evident. And when they are in breeding flush its great to see the skin colour change. 

Intermediate Egrets are present all the way through Vic and SA. They can be hard to distinguish, but they have wonderful chest filaments when they are in breeding plumage, are generally smaller than Great Egret, gape doesn't extend so far back. They are much smaller than a full-size Great Egret - but about the same size as an immature Great, and the gape on the immature Great isn't so obviously behind the eye either. And when they sit like the second shot, its hard to see neck length and proportion...

The first shot is a Great Egret. If I had to make a guess, I'd say the second one was too, but I'm no expert - if you want to check, try Australian Bird ID - they are super helpful :-) 

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