(2222) Egretta alba alba.
The Large Egret.
Ardea alba Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 144 (1758) (Europe). Herodias alba. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 385 (part.).
Vernacular names. Mallang-bogla, Torra-bogla, Tar-bogla, Bara-bogla (Hind.): Dhar- bogla (Beng.); Pedda-tella-honga (Tel.) ; Mala-konga (Grond); Vella-koku (Tam., Ceylon); Badda-tel-koka (Cing.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Whole plumage pure white; from the interscapulars and Scapulars grow three sets of long plumes extending some inches beyond the tail; these plumes have shafts stout at the base and gradually tapering to very fine at the tip and are furnished with barbs which are fine and separated.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow; bill black; orbital skin to behind the eye, naked lores and edge of gape bright green; legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 410 to 470 mm.; occasionally up to 510 mm.; tail 175 to 200 mm.; tarsus about 165 to 215 mm.; culmen 116 to 142 mm.
In non-breeding plumage the dorsal plumes are dropped; the bill is yellow ; the naked skin of the face duller and yellowish and the tibia tinged with livid or greenish.
Nestling. Down all pure white; head down long but not bristly as in the young of the genus Ardea.
Distribution. Breeding South-East Europe to South-East Siberia, Northern China and Japan. In Winter South to North Africa, India and China. In India it is a rare visitor but occurs scattered throughout the North as far East as the United Provinces.
Nidification. In Europe these Egrets breed from April to June in colonies of considerable size, building their stick nests both on trees and on beaten-down reeds. They lay from three to four eggs, occasionally five, of the usual type but varying more in depth of colour than do the eggs of most Herons. The average of 100 eggs (80 Jourdain) is 60.3 x 42.4 mm.: maxima 68.4 x 44.7 and 61.0 x 45.6 mm.; minima 53.9 X 42.5 and 61.3 x 40.0 mm.
Habits. The Large Egret is a rather solitary bird except in the breeding-season. It feeds principally on fish, frogs, tadpoles and freshwater mollusca etc. but, like most Herons, will also devour young and sickly birds, mice etc. and it also feeds constantly on grasshoppers, coleoptera etc. Its note is a low croak and, when disturbed, it utters a louder, harsher cry. The flight of all the Egrets is typical .of that of the Herons but they are slower than the birds of the genus Ardea, yet flap their wings rather more quickly.