Unlike Japanese Crested Ibises, cranes and storks, which extend their necks when in flight, egrets retract their neck when flying. Because there are so many, it is quite difficult to identify various species of egrets. While the beak color of other egrets changes from black to yellow in the fall and winter, that of the Little Egret alone remains black all year long. The beaks of Chinese Egrets, which are yellow in the spring and summer, turn black in the fall and winter.
Play birds singing
While most egrets are larger than crows, a Little Egret is approximately the same size as a crow. It is from this characteristic that the Little Egret got its name.
Intermediate Egrets are larger than crows, while Great Egrets are larger than Intermediate Egrets. Accordingly, if an Intermediate Egret and a Great Egret were posed side-by-side, it may not be difficult to tell which was which, but since they both have entirely white bodies, they are otherwise very similar in appearance.
Prior to leaving the nest, juvenile Little Egrets are the same size as their parents, or the size of a crow. Juvenile birds, however, have legs that are lighter in color than the black legs of their parents until summer. But upon the arrival of autumn, it becomes difficult to distinguish juveniles from adults because their legs assume the same black color.
While all egrets have black legs, Little Egrets and Chinese Egrets have yellow toes, which make them appear as though they are wearing slippers. Due to their rarity worldwide, finding a Chinese Egret in Japan is no easy task.
Both Little Egrets and Chinese Egrets share the common trait of catching fish to eat by vibrating their legs and fingers to shake small fish out from the bottom of the water. Their colorful fingers may be related to this unique fishing method.
Because egrets form colonies of nests in green areas near water, creating noise and an unpleasant odor, they are not always welcomed by humans living nearby.
The Little Egret, the most common bird within the egret family, has been designated as an endangered species in some regions due to loss of breeding ground.
The Little Egret's summer plumage (during the spring and summer months) features crest feathers extending to the back of the head and curled ornamental feathers on the back and chest.
More than a few bird species sport plumage that is more eye-catching during the summer breeding season than in the winter. The plumage of egrets, in particular, changes to mating colors during the breeding season. In the case of the Little Egret, the color of its lores changes from yellow to pink.