Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club         Southeastern Caribbean Bird Alert         Trinidad and Tobago Rare Bird Committee
RESPONSES TO 'Cattle Egret' (Bubulcus ibis)
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     My only comment on yonder egret is that the feathers look to be in far too good condition to have been oiled. Dyed? Sure.
     I'd almost guess hybrid with LBHE, but the rest of the bird looks too much like a Cattle Egret.
     Cool looking bird, anyway

RESPONDENT 2: Harry Lehto <>
     This is indeed an interesting egret. One could argue that it is a melanistic bird. The bird has lots of grey feathers, and what seems to be newer feathers appear also off-white (primaries, and mantle feathers), so this could be used as an argument againt the bird being stained, and teh color being genuine feathre coloration. It would be very intersting to see what this bird looks like in flight.
     The other option is that the bird is stained (assuming that the two options are mutually exclusive ;-)). Sometimes it is very difficult to separate positively a stained bird from a color morph (see eg the red  magpies my web page
and also the more obviuous oily magpies
     This egret appears to be stained mainly on the following five arguments.
     Some stained feathers appear to be sticking together (photo 1 rear crown, 2 "feathers" breast feathers, crown fetahers on photo 2).      The underside of the feathers appears paler. This is visible on photo2, right on the top of the mantle, where you can see under the feathers.
     If the bird is indeed stained, then the paler feathers can be explained as having been moulted and subsequently been restained. Or that they were less stained because they were still growing and protected by other feathers. The darkness of the color indicating in this case the exposure
to the staining material.
     The feet appear to have some similar kind of grey coloration at the very base.
     Finally, there is one feather that I think indicates positively that the bird is indeed stained. The feather is bicolored, in such a way that the feather on top of this one has been moulted revealing the contour of the protecting feather. This is visible on both photos. It's located on the back/mantle and in photo1 about half way up the bird a bit left of the point where the branch from the right touches the bird. On photo2, it is at or slightly below eyelevel, left of the central line  of the bird's body. This feather appears dark tipped with a pale base. Behind this feather there is a full grown pale grey feather.

     I'd like to point you to page 64 of the Sibley Guide to Birds.  There are two "rare aberrant plumages of cattle egrets" illustrated at the bottom of the page.  One is an exess of orange colour and the other is a darker greyish-blueish, very similar to the one you have photographed.  Perhaps the bird you have pictured is one of these individuals with a rare aberrant plumage.