Status: Resident along coasts and rivers throughout Ireland, but still scarce in the Midlands and north-west of the country. Little Egret was considered rare in Ireland until it first started breeding here in 1997. It has since expanded and now occurs in almost every coastal county, as well as at a number of inland sites.
Conservation Concern: Green-listed in Ireland. The European population is considered to be Secure.
Identification: Medium-sized white heron, with long black legs, yellow feet, black bill and blue-grey lores, and two elongated nape-feathers in breeding plumage.
Similar Species: Unmistakable in Ireland. Great White Egret is a rare visitor from Continental Europe, but is twice the size.
Call: Rook-like hoarse 'aaah' on alighting from the ground. At colonies, hoarse hard gargling 'gulla-gulla-gulla…' often heard.
Diet: Takes a wide variety of animals including small fish, frogs, snails and insects and forages across a range of wetland habitats from lakes to flooded grassland. Often forages alone; but maybe encountered in small groups.
Breeding: Clutch: 4-5 eggs (1 brood) Incubation: 21-22 days.Fledging: 40-45 days (Altrical). Age of first breeding: not known. Breeds in lakes, marshes, flooded fields & estuaries.
Wintering: Little Egrets use a variety of wetland habitats, including shallow lakes, riverbanks, lagoons, coastal estuaries and rocky shoreline.
Where to See: Sites in Counties Cork and Waterford regularly support most birds - Cork Harbour, Blackwater Estuary, Bantry Bay, Ballymacoda and Courtmacsherry Bay, Broadstrand Bay & Dunworley are among the best sites (up to 30 birds).
Monitored by: Irish Wetland Bird Survey.