If you have been birding around a water body, chances are that you’ve come across a long legged water bird and probably noticed subtle differences between the different types. Chances are that you have ended up identifying it as one of the below birds:
Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis):
The Cattle Egret is a stocky bird with relatively short thick neck, sturdy bill, and a hunched posture. The non-breeding adult has mainly white plumage, a yellow bill and greyish-yellow legs. During the breeding season, adults develop orange-buff plumes on the back, breast and crown, and the bill, legs and irises become bright red for a brief period prior to pairing.
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta):
The adult Little Egret has a plumage that is all white. The subspecies garzetta has long black legs with yellow feet and a slim black bill. In the breeding season, the adult has two long nape plumes and gauzy plumes on the back and breast, and the bare skin between the bill and eyes becomes red or blue. Juveniles are similar to non-breeding adults but have greenish-black legs and duller yellow feet and a bare patch of grey-green skin between the bill and eyes.
Indian Pond Heron or Paddybird (Ardeola grayii):
They appear stocky with a short neck, short thick bill and buff-brown back. In summer, adults have long neck feathers. Its appearance is transformed from their dull colours when they take to flight, when the white of the wings makes them very prominent. In breeding plumage chin, throat and fore-neck is white with long white crest. The feathers of back become very long and rich maroon in colour, extending over the tail and inner secondaries. The wings and tail remain white. They are very common in India, and are usually solitary foragers but numbers of them may sometimes feed in close proximity during the dry seasons