The Lady and the Egret

“Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis coromundus) have symbiotic relationships with cattle and other animals. They feed on parasitic ticks on the cattle and also benefit from insects and other prey stirred up by the cattle’s grazing. I previously posted observations of Great Egrets with fishermen LINK and wondered about the symbiotic relationship – what does the boat man get out of it?

EgretCattle-grass cutter [AmarSingh]

“In Nepal we observed a lady cutting grass, presumably as fodder for animals. A Cattle Egret accompanied her at very close range to take advantage of the activity and feed on prey disturbed by the lady (above, below). This was happening in the heat of the day ~ 2pm.

EgretCattle-grass cutter [AmarSingh]

“Many of us would have seen egrets turn up to feed when fields are ploughed or grass/crops cut by machines. But here the relationship is a little more ‘personal’. The local community in Nepal do not have a habit of eating birds and hence birds are not as afraid as in other parts of Asia.

“Cutting grass is a tiring activity and having a silent ‘companion’ helps ease the burden.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
11th November 2017

Location: Pokhara, Gandaki Zone, Western Region, Nepal at 900m ASL
Habitat: Park in the city adjust to a large lake

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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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