Cattle Egret associating with water buffalo

“I was out today to re-visit old locations in the city, with secondary jungle/scrub, that are being threatened by development. This location, now beseeched by housing on three sides, has always had a lot of ‘wild’ Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) kept by herders for their milk and ?meat. Hard to get near them when they are free ranging and grazing – they give a cold stare from far off that keeps me away.

“The Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis coromandus) love them and come daily to feed at their feet and often sit on them. I managed to get close when they strayed near a road and used the car as a hide. Almost all were in some stage of breeding plumage.

“This egret caught a frog that was dislodged by the cattle (left centre). It immediately flew a short distance away to enjoy it. Managed to catch up but sadly lots of foliage in between.

“Balancing on the Water Buffalo requires skill and this chap was almost dislodged (left top). One of the birds had part of the bill fractured off but did not seem to interfere with feeding (left bottom).”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
6th March 2010

Non-breeding Cattle Egret, also known as Eastern Cattle Egret, has an all-white plumage and blackish legs and feet. The adult breeding bird has extensive rufous-buff head and neck, short rufous-buff nape and breast-plumes and long rufous-buff back-plumes. The legs and feet are more yellowish. The bill become reddish with yellowish tip during courtship – see HERE. The bird above appears to be just entering the breeding stage as seen from its plumage. Also, the legs and feet are still blackish.

  1. Cindy

    I love to watch the pictures of the water buffalo..They look so cute..That buffalo really eats a frog?

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