Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Stained Egrets

An oddly plumaged egret in Lincolnshire, photos of which can be found here elicited some lenghty discussions on the internet, which can be found here. My impression is that the bird in question is a stained Little Egret, with the caveat that I wouldn't like to completely rule out possibility of Cattle Egret genes. The discussion surrounding this bird caused me to search for examples of stained egrets while on a recent trip to Goa. I quickly found several individuals whose plumage appeared to have become stained in some way, although not to the extent of the Lincolnshire bird. I managed to obtain photos of all the birds I found, all of which are below. In order, species shown in the photos are as follows: Little, Eastern Cattle, Eastern Cattle, Eastern Cattle, Little, Eastern Cattle. The staining on the birds below is mainly on the neck, suggesting that the colouration may have been picked up while the birds were feeding, and possibly while they had their heads submerged in water. It is interesting therefore that the Lincolnshire bird also shows dirty-coloured shoulders. The last Eastern Cattle Egret also shows dirty shoulders, but this could potentially be a bird showing buff pigments as part of it's normal plumage. The suggestion that the staining of egrets due to their diet is an interesting one.

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