Little Egret

Egretta garzetta (Linnaeus, 1766)

Ardea garzetta Gm.: Finsch, 1859: 386; Elwes, Buckley, 1870: 334; Sintenis, 1877: 66; Radakoff, 1879: 173; Lorenz-Liburnau, 1893: 23; Reiser, 1894: 144; Klain, 1909: 110; Floericke, 1918: 99; Herodias garzetta: Simpson, 1861: 371.

Order Ciconiiformes

Family Ardeidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU=[A2+B1(bii)], BCA-II, III (I); International: BD-I, BeC-II.

General distribution. A species of the Old World breeding in Europe, Africa and Madagascar island, Central and Southern Asia; the Philippines, New Guinea and Australia. The birds from Europe winter along the southwestern Mediterranean coast, in Africa. The total numbers in Europe and the basins of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea is estimated at 22 000 36 000 pairs [1].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor, passage migrant and as an exception wintering species. In the past it bred along the Danube shore and along the valleys of the rivers Vit, Maritsa, Tundzha, Syutliyka [2, 3]. In the recent years it was registered as breeding also in a swamp to the east of Sofia [4]. At present, 147 breeding habitats have been established with different degrees of certainty, of which 44 have certain breeding [5]. The total abundance is estimated at 1 500 2 000 [3], 500 1 500 [6], 1 400 2 000 [5, 7], 800 1 000 breeding pairs [8].

Habitats. Fresh water lakes and marshes/swamps, flooded and oak forests, reservoirs and microreservoirs, fisheries. During migrations and during the winter it is also found in coast brackish water basins, reservoirs, irrigation canals.

Biology. It always breeds in mixed colonies of Herons, Glossy Ibises, Spoonbills and Pygmy Cormorants. The nests are located in reed or in willow trees and poplars. It breeds 4-6 young ones that start flying from the beginning of July.

Similar species. The Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis).

Negative factors. In the past it was shot down as a pest (the 1950s). Negative factors are not known at present; probably the drying up and the degradation of the wetlands.

Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Most of the traditional breeding habitats are included in Protected Territories.

Conservation measures needed. Preparation of a National Plan for its conservation and its enforcement.

References. 1. Wetlands International, 2002; 2. Patev, 1950; 3. Simeonov et al, 1989; 4. Delov, 1992; 5. BSPB (In print); 6. Kostadinova, 1997; 7. Birdlife International, 2002; 8. Nankinov et al., 2004.

Author: Tanyo Michev

Little Egret (distribution map)

Little Egret (drawing)