1559. Herodias alba.
The Large Egret.
Ardea alba, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 239 (1766). Ardea egretta, Bechst. Naturg. Deutschl. ii;, p. 41 (1793): Hume, N. & E. p. 613. Ardea torra, Buch. Ham., Frankl. P. Z. S. 1831, p. 123; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. (2) vii, p. 431. Herodias alba, Blyth, Cat. p. 279 ; Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 744; Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 36 ; Hume, S. F. i, p. 253 ; Butler, S. F. iv, p. 23 ; Oates, S. F. v, p. 167 ; Hume, Cat. no. 924 bis; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 360 ; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 1138 ; Reid, S. F. x, p. 75 ; Oates, B. B. ii, p. 246 ; id. in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. iii, p. 237 ; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. xxvi, p. 90. Herodias egretta, Hume, S. F. v, p. 347. Herodias torra, Hume Sf Dav. S. F. vi, p. 472 ; Ball, S. F. vii, p. 230; Hume, Cat. no. 925; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 360; Doig, ibid. p. 372 ; Vidal, S. F. ix, p. 88; Butler, ibid. p. 433; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 379; Hume & Cripps, S. F. xi, p. 332 ; Barnes, Jour. Bom. N.
H. Soc. vi, p. 143.
Mallang bagla, Torra-bagla, Tar-bagla, Bara-bagla, H. ; Dhar-bagla, Beng. ; Pedda-tella-konga, Tel.; Mala-konga, Gond; Vella koku, Tam.; (Ceylon) ; Baddadel-koka, Cing.
Coloration. Pure white. In the breeding-season a train of long ornamental feathers with fine separate and distant barbs springs from the back and extends 4 or 5 inches beyond the tail; no crest or breast-plumes. The train is dropped after the breeding-season.
In the breeding-season, the bill is black, orbital skin bright green, iris yellow, legs and feet black, soles yellowish, naked part of tibia bluish black. At other seasons the bill is yellow, orbital skin greenish yellow, tibia dull greenish (Oates).
Dimensions vary greatly. An average specimen measures: length about 36, tail 5.5, wing 14.5, tarsus 6, bill from gape 5-5. The wing, however, varies from 13 to 17 and the tarsus from 5.25 to 8.5 ; birds from the north, as usual, being larger than those which breed to the southward. Hume and other naturalists thought that two different species, a larger and a smaller, occurred in India, but it is impossible to distinguish them.
Distribution. The warmer parts of Europe and Asia as far east as Burma, with the whole of Africa; allied species or races replacing H. alba in Eastern Asia and Australia and in America. This Egret is found throughout India, Ceylon, and Burma.
Habits, &c. The Large Egret is rather more solitary in general than the smaller species, but it frequently associates with them. It breeds in Northern India and in Burma about July and August, but in the Carnatic and Ceylon, where the rains fall and the country is flooded during the north-east monsoon, all Herons breed from December to February. This species lays generally 3, occasionally 4, bluish-green eggs measuring on an average 2.11 by 1.55.