(2226) Bubulcus ibis coromandus.
The Cattle Egret.
Cancroma coromanda Bodd., Tabl. Pl. Enlum., p. 54 (1783) (Coromandel). Bubulcus coromondus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 389.
Vernacular names. Surkhia-bogla, Badani-bogla, Doria-bogla (Hind.) ; Gai-bogla (Hind, and Beng.) ; Samti-tonga (Tel.) ; Huni¬- koka (Tam., Ceylon); Gehri-koka, Harak-kokha (Cing.); Gobo-gali (Assam).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Feathers of head and neck very long and decomposed, orange-buff; a long tuft of dorsal plumes from the interscapulars orange-buff, reaching to the end of the tail or a little beyond it; remainder of plumage pure white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris golden-yellow ; bill yellow; orbital and facial bare skin greenish-yellow ; tarsi and feet black; the upper part of the tibia and soles yellow or greenish-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 240 to 260 mm.; tail 83 to 96 mm.; tarsus 82 to 92 mm.; culmen 50 to 66 mm.; males average a little larger than females, but the extremes are almost identical.
In non-breeding-plumage the orange feathers are shed and the whole plumage is pure white. The colours of the bill, legs etc. do not change.
Distribution. All India, Ceylon, Burma, the Malay Peninsula, Siam and the islands to the Philippines, Moluccas and Korea.
Nidification. The Egret breeds at the same times as the other species of Egret, i. e. from July to the end of the Rains in Northern India, Assam and Burma, in December to March in Southern India whilst in Ceylon it breeds from January to May. Like all the family it breeds in large colonies with other Herons, Egrets, Cormorants etc., building the usual untidy stick nest and laying three to five eggs, which are decidedly a paler skim-milk blue than those of any of the other Indian Herons and Egrets. In shape also they are rather broader ovals. Eighty eggs average 44.1 x 33.6 mm.: maxima 48.5 x 32.0 and 45.1 x 35.1 mm.; minima 41.4 x 33.8 and 43.5 x 32.0 mm.
Habits. This Egret differs from the other members of the family in being almost entirely an insect-eater, spending most of its time wandering about cattle pastures, feeding on the insects and grasshoppers which the latter disturb and also picking off ticks from the backs of cattle. The birds, of course, also eat frogs, worms, fish and mollusca as well. They are extraordinarily tame, allowing people to pass within a few feet without moving and then merely flapping lazily away or stalking solemnly off for a few yards before recommencing to feed. Their voice is a low, deep croak, seldom uttered and the young birds hiss loudly when handled in the nest.