(2224) Egretta intermedia intermedia.
The Indian Smaller Egret.
Ardea intermedia Wagler, Isis, 1829, p. 659 (Java). Herodias intermedia. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 386.
Vernacular names. Patangkha-bogla, Patokha-bogla, Karchia-bogla (Hind.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Pure white ; from the interscapulars springs a long train of feathers similar to the ornamental plumes of the Large Egret but much longer in proportion; the base of the fore-neck and upper breast are also decorated with the same kind of feathers, though much shorter.
Colours of soft parts. Iris yellow; naked skin of face green; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 304 to 333 mm., once 354 mm.; tail 116 to 135 mm.; tarsus about 114 (once), 122 to 148 mm.; culmen about 68 (twice), 73 to 97 mm., once 118 mm.
In non-breeding plumage the ornamental plumes are shed.
Colours of soft parts. Bill yellow, darker at the tip and rather more brown at the base ; bare skin of face yellowish; legs and feet dusky black, greenish at the joints and on the tibia.
Distribution. Throughout Ceylon, India, Burma, South to Malay Peninsula, Indo-Chinese countries to China, Japan and the Philippines.
Nidification. The Smaller Egrets breed in Ceylon from November to March, occasionally on to April and May; in Madras and the South they breed during December and January, whilst in Northern India, Assam and Burma they breed from July to September. In very wet years the birds breed earlier and I have seen eggs in May. These Egrets breed in very large colonies, sometimes of several hundreds and though they occasionally build their nests in among those of other Herons, Storks and Ibises, as a rule they keep a little apart from them. The nests are of the usual type and the normal full complement of eggs is four, rarely three or five. Very pale eggs occur, about one in every twenty clutches, but the average colour is a trine darker than in A. alba. In size sixty eggs average 47.6 x 35.8 mm. : maxima 52.8 x 36.1 and 50.1 x 38.6 mm.; minima 42.6 X 35.0 and 48.0 x 33.1 mm.
Habits. Those of the genus but this species seems exceptionally sociable, assembling in very large flocks. They feed very much on insects, especially on coleoptera and grasshoppers and may be seen sometimes feeding with Cattle Egrets among cattle. They are very easy birds to tame and can be allowed absolute liberty in gardens and orchards without fear of their flying away. Even in the breeding-season they will breed close to their home and visit their owners mornings and evenings for food and notice. These Herons are kept by villagers in large heronries for the sake of their plumes, whilst villages which have heronries of wild birds in their villages or in their close vicinity protect them very zealously from outsiders.