In many ways, this is one of the easier to identify herons in this month’s ID Challenge. For starters, it is obviously a largely white bird, which immediately rules out most options and steers it towards one of the white species we call egrets. So, that narrows it down. Secondly, it has a yellow-orange bill, so the field is further reduced, excluding Little Egret (and Great White Egret in full breeding finery). The compact, almost chunky, shape, the lack of a significant keel-like bulge in the folded neck and the relatively short bill all count against the yellow billed Great White Egret (out of breeding finery). Instead they point to Cattle Egret. This conclusion is strengthened by a closer look at the head, where you can see an orange crown.
KEY FEATURES Nearly all white plumages suggest this is an egret Compact, almost chunky, shape Orange crown Thick orange-yellow bill, dark legs and feet