Western Reef Egret Egretta gularis
- Egretta : French word French Aigrette for egret
- Gularis : latin word for “Throated”
Vernacular Names: Hindi: Kala bagala, Sans: Krishna bak, Guj: Dariai baglo, Dariyayi bagalo, Mar: Vela bak, Kala bagla, Bhartiya Sagari Bagla, Samudri BagalaTa: Karai kokku, Karuppu kalla vayan, Te: Theerapu konga, Mal: Thiramunti
Distribution in India: Resident of West and South East Coast in India.
Description: Size of 55–65 cm; Wt. of 280–710 g; wingspan of 86–104 cm. It is a thin-bodied, medium-sized white or dark heron, with long, thin neck and bill, dark legs and yellow feet, and distinctive head, breast and back plumes. The male is larger than female. The dark morphs are paler, with white throat and two nuchal plumes. The legs are longer, bill thinner, more white on throat. Races separated on colour of feet, legs, bill and lores. The Bill is heavier and slightly more down curved in species gularis with more angular head shape, longer and thinner neck, and shorter legs. It is dimorphic, with white and dark forms, the latter usually with a white throat. Both forms have yellow to pale green lores in non-breeding plumage, yellow to horn-brown bill, yellow-brown to dark brown legs with dull yellow feet, while during courtship period bill becomes darker, the lores and feet briefly red, and legs dark brown. Most gularis are dark, ranging from grey-black to pale charcoal-grey, with white chin and throat in most individuals, frequently some white on leading edge to wing and variable white on upperwing. The race schistacea ( West, South and South East India) are typically larger than nominate gularis and highly variable being white with dark mottling, while dark birds are blue-grey with white throat and occasionally have white wing patches. In non-breeding plumage, lores are yellow, blue-green or even colourless, bill ranges from yellow to olive-green, brown or even black, and frequently becomes darker towards tip, legs are dark but often has well-demarcated yellow to dark green feet; in breeding condition, the lores become red or orange, bill is yellow sometimes with variable reddish flush, legs are black or brown again variably flushed orange, and feet become pink to red.
Habitat: It is found in coastal area, being mainly found on rocky or sandy shores and reefs.
Food habits: It eats aquatic and terrestrial insects, crustaceans and small fish, amphibians, molluscs, spiders, worms, reptiles, small birds. It is diurnal, but in marine areas feeding rhythms dictated by tides. It is an active feeder, using wide variety of techniques, especially Foot Stirring and Walking Slowly, but also including Walking Quickly, Running, Open Wing Feeding and Double Wing Feeding, and, in deeper water, Hovering, Dipping, Foot Dragging, Jumping and Hopping. It is solitary, aggressively defending feeding territory.
Breeding habits: They breed in Apr–Jul/Oct in India. They are monogamous. They nest (on ledges. The nest is typically, constructed of sticks . The nest is built by both sexes, most material is brought by male, and sometimes builds new nest atop old one. They are single-brooded. They lay a clutch of 1–7 greenish-blue eggs. The incubation period is 26–28 days. Incubation is done by both sexes, starting only with second or third egg. The chicks hatch asynchronously .The fledging period is 40–45 days, . the chicks continue to beg food from adults post-fledging. Brood reduction is typical, with later-hatching young frequently dying due to competition with older siblings, with chick survival usually affected by predation, weather (rainfall), and hydrology and prey availability.