Cattle Egret
(Bubulcus ibis)


Picture of bird
© Jukka Jantunen (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

Native to Africa and parts of Eurasia and Australia, the Cattle Egret naturally and rapidly colonized North America between the 1950s-1970s and also extended into parts of Canada. Confirmed breeding events in Canada have always been rare (first recorded nest in 1962; Telfair 2006). Most observations, which happen annually, have been in spring and fall; the latter likely represent post-breeding dispersers from the larger populations in the southern United States. The population in Canada remains small, but the lack of information precludes an assessment of this species' population status relative to about 1970.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Imperiled2015 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaData DeficientData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada100 - 500 breeding birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-May and late May and ends in early August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Given their strong association with agricultural landscapes and livestock, Cattle Egrets are directly affected by a range of human activities (Telfair 2006). The availability of breeding habitat is limited by their preference for nesting in heronries that have been previously established by other species (Telfair 2006). Pesticides and other contaminants may affect survival and productivity, but their impact at the population-level is unknown (Telfair 2006).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type