Little Egret with yellow legs and feet

To: "Mike Carter" <>, "Mick Roderick" <>, "Jeff Davies" <>, "Birding Aus" <>
Subject: Little Egret with yellow legs and feet
From: "Allan Richardson" <>
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2008 22:35:14 +1100
Agreed - Little Egret

The foraging habit and head architecture don't allow for the bird to be any 
other Australian egret.  With regard to subspecies the bird is most likely 
immaculata based on the yellow lores and feet colour.  According to Hancock and 
Kushlan both nigripes (Indonesian ssp.) and garzetta (nominate ssp.) have 
blue-grey lores. garzetta has feet and nigripes has black feet, although 
occasional nigipes individuals have yellow soles to their feet, which is the 
case with immaculata. No mention is made of yellow bill colour or the leg 
yellow, in any age cohort, apart from the yellow occurring at the base of the 
lower mandible.  Nestling Little Egrets have bright yellow bills with some 
black markings, but how long this colouration is held as the birds mature is 

I briefly saw a similarly marked bird at rest (neck folded) on the mid-north 
coast in mangroves on the Macleay estuary a long time ago and the markings were 
very boldly defined, giving the bird a mature appearance, which really threw a 
spanner in the ID-ing works at the time.  A bird I photographed in the same 
area in 2006 has definite green patches on the rear of its heel and appears 
(long distance photos) to have more than a normal amount of yellow on the feet. 
Maybe this is an uncommon character that surfaces occasionally in individual 
birds ? If entirely black footed nigripes occasionally exhibits yellow feet 
then maybe immaculata occasionally exhibits more yellow in the legs than is 
normally observed. Maybe we'll all take more than a passing glance at Little 
Egret legs in the future???


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