Egretta

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Egretta
White-faced-Heron444.jpg
White-faced heron, Egretta novaehollandiae
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Egretta
T. Forster, 1817
Species

See text.

White-faced heron, Egretta novaehollandiae with a frog

Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the little egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas.

Little egret Egretta garzetta in Kolleru, Andhra Pradesh, India.

These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage; a number of species are either white in all plumages, have a white morph (e.g. reddish egret), or have a white juvenile plumage (little blue heron).

The breeding habitat of Egretta herons is marshy wetlands in warm regions. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

These herons feed on insects, fish and amphibians, caught normally by cautious stalking.

Taxonomy[edit]

As with other heron groupings, the taxonomy of these birds has been a source of dispute. Some of these species have been placed with the great herons in Ardea, and conversely the large white species like great egret are occasionally allocated to Egretta.

The fact that some of the group are named "heron" and some "egret" has no taxonomic significance.

Species[edit]

A fossil species, Egretta subfluvia, is known from the Late Miocene or Early Pliocene of Florida.