Little Egret

Did you know?

The Little Egret will spread one or both of its wings to shade the water while stalking prey.

At the nest the Little Egret utters numerous bubbling and croaking sounds.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
October to February in south; March-April in north.
Clutch Size: 
3 to 5
23 days
Nestling Period: 
36 days
Conservation Status
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Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Little Egret is a small white egret with dark grey-black legs, black bill and a bright yellow naked face. In the breeding season the plumage includes two ribbon-like head plumes, and abundant plumes on the back and breast. The Little Egret is also called the Lesser Egret.

Similar species: 

Cattle EgretsArdea ibis, Intermediate Egrets, A. intermedia, and the white form of the Eastern Reef Egret, Egretta sacra, are also white and of similar size, but none has the black bill of the Little Egret.

Where does it live?

The Little Egret is found mainly in coastal and inland areas of northern, eastern and south-eastern Australia. It is common on the north, uncommon in the south, and only a winter visitor to Tasmania. Little Egrets are also found widely in Africa, Europe, Asia and New Guinea.


The Little Egret frequents tidal mudflats, saltwater and freshwater wetlands, and mangroves.

Seasonal movements: 

The Little Egret is nomadic, depending on water levels in wetlands, and migratory, visiting Tasmania in winter.

What does it do?

The Little Egret feeds on a wide variety of invertebrates, as well as fish and amphibians. The Little Egret hunts in shallow water by shuffling a foot to stir up aquatic prey, which it then takes in a lightning-fast movement. It also chases small fish with its wings raised.


Breeding occurs in colonies with other waterbirds. A scanty nest of sticks is built over water. Both sexes incubate the eggs. Before fledging, the young birds are able to climb around or roost in branches near the nest.

Living with us

The Little Egret sometimes joins Cattle Egrets to feed in grassland near domestic cattle. Reclamation of tidal land may affect local breeding populations in mangroves.

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