794. LITTLE EGRET.
Ardea garzetta, Linn. i. p. 237, 1766 ; (Naum.), ix. p. 101, Taf. 223 ; Gould, B. of E. iv. pl. 277 ; id. B. of Gt. Brit. iv. pl. 23 ; Dresser, vi. p. 239, pl. 399 ; (David and Oust.), Ois. Chine, p. 440 ; (Sharpe). Cat. B. Br. Mus. xxvi. p. 118 ; (Blanf.), F. Brit. Ind. Birds, iii. p. 387 ; Saunders, p. 373 ; Lilford, vii. p. 19, pl. 7 ; Seebohm, B. Jap. Emp. p. 218.
Heron garzette, French ; Garza bianca, Span. ; Garzetta, Ital. ; Kleiner Silberreiher, German ; Kleine Zilverreiger, Dutch ; Tschepuranushda, Russ. ; Beiadi, Arab. ; Bou-fala, Bou-bliga.
Moor. ; Kilchia, Karchia-bagla, Hindu. ; Siao-pae-hao, Chin. ; shira-sagi, Jap.
Male ad. (Spain). Entire plumage pure white ; two long, narrow feathers form a plume from the nape ; a large bunch of elongated recurved hair-like plumes extend from the lower back beyond the tail, and a bunch of elongated feathers slightly tinged with isabelline on the lower throat ; bill black, but yellowish grey at the base of the lower mandible, bare space about the eye lead-blue ; iris pale yellow ; legs and feet black, soles yellow. Culmen 3.5, wing 11.0, tail 4.5, tarsus 4.4 inch. Female similar but somewhat smaller. In the winter the occipital and dorsal plumes are absent.
Hab. Southern Europe, straying rarely to northern con¬tinental Europe and Great Britain ; Azores. Canaries, and Cape Verde Islands ; Africa south to the Cape ; Asia east to Japan, north to northern China, south to Ceylon, the Malay peninsula and the Philippines. H. nigripes from Java to Australia, is scarcely separable from the present species, differing only in having no yellow on the feet.
In habits it does not differ from its allies and like them is very gregarious, frequenting large marshes, and feeding on fish, frogs, aquatic insects, worms, &c. It breeds in colonies, con structing its nest of dry twigs and reed-stems lined with finer leaves of aquatic plants, grass, and roots, and placing it on low trees, rush-beds, or on the ground, and late in May or early in June, usually 4 but occasionally 5 or 6 eggs are deposited, which are uniform pale greenish blue and measure about 1.76 by 1.26.
On the American continent the present species is replaced by A. candidissima, Gm. Demiegretta sacra, which inhabits the islands in the Bay of Bengal south to Australia and New Zealand and most of the Islands in the Pacific, is said to have strayed north to the islands in the Bay of Corea, but I cannot include it as a Palaearctic species.
794. Ardea garzetta
794. LITTLE EGRET.