Monday, December 13, 2010

Grey "Little Egret"

Presumed hybrid Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) X Western Reef Heron (Egretta gularis) at Salinas de Santa Luzia (Tavira) on December 12. These birds are seen with regularity in the Algarve and Southern Spain and these type of birds has been discussed in articles in "Dutch Birding" and the website "Rare birds in Spain". The "cave" is, that dark morphs of both species do exist as well.
Lenght and shape of the bill is said to give some indications in this case, among others, as far as I remember, but I did not have the time to look it up yet. This has been only yesterday and I just arrived home now from an excursion with a secondary school class from Faro in Ria Formosa Natural Park to observe birds and talk about (and show!) biodiversity and trophic chain etc.
Voluntary work, by the way ... ;)

Another bird. Little Egret X? This photo is from Febr. 2007 and has been made at a small pool in the salt marsh just behind "Forte do Rato" in Tavira. Perhaps a 2nd or 3rd generation hybrid ?


  1. Hi Georg - we posted some pics of this bird and some others earlier in the year:
    The bird that is currently at Santa Luzia is definitely the same one that was there two years ago and probably earlier. It is the only one we have seen this winter - but it is very regular in its habits and can be found most days at low tide feeding in the same channel and defending it against all comers.
    Peter & June

  2. Hi there,
    well, we all have to share "our" channels with others..;-) I saw a much paler bird (will look for the photos) in spring 2007, I believe, near Forte do Rato. What do say regarding an ID ? Just a dark morph Little Egret, this dark one ? Do you have Ray's article (Dutch Birding) as pdf ? Best regards, Georg

  3. Hi Georg
    Had dinner with Ray last night and talked about these birds (again!). It might be interesting to get all the available photos together and compare them. We doubt whether there is such a thing as a dark morph Little Egret and believe these birds are garzetta x gularis hybrids.
    The bird that 'lived' around the Forte do Rato area was definitely different but we haven't seen it for several months now.
    Ray had a photograph published but the article you refer to is still being written.
    Peter & June

  4. Thank you, Peter&June. As you can see, I found the photo of the other, paler Individual. It seems you are right, the "dark morph" Little Egrets still described in BEAMAN&MADGE are not mentioned anymore in SVENSSON et al.(2010). Looking forward to the article in Dutch Birding and further clarification. I still did not go into it yet...

  5. Hi folks,
    According to Zimmerman et al. 1999 (Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania) mixed pairs of little egrets (dark and white) used to breed on islands at Lake Turkana (Kenya). Dimporphic egrets are currently lumped by IUCN with Little egrets, and also have dark and white morphs.
    Dark morphs little egrets definitely exist, they just don't occur (regularly) in Europe.