Little Egret

  • SCIENTIFIC NAME: Egretta garzetta

  • SWAHILI NAME: yangeyange

This long-legged and dainty bird sometimes stirs up mud while it is wading to see if it can locate any likely prey, which it then stabs with its pointed beak.

Little Egret

Little Egret



Daily Rhythm




Conservation Status

least concern


280-700 g


55–65 cm
Wingspan: 86-104 cm

Little Egret

Trivia Question

Why were little egrets once hunted?


In the 19th century in parts of Europe, it became locally extinct because of overhunting.

Social Structure

This bird is often observed by itself or in small gatherings, and can become defensive when feeding. It also likes to roost in trees with other herons.


Noticeably vocal and at times sounding like a crow, little egrets have distinctive calls when taking off and landing, in flight, and in feeding.


Little egrets wade through shallow waters or else stand motionless as they watch for potential prey; they will also fly in search of their next meal. They almost always hunt during the day when visibility is best. Opportunistic feeders, they will take advantage of any prey that is abundant.


Least concern


While little egrets mainly eat fish, they will also consume snakes, amphibians, crustaceans, insects, and other invertebrates.


Monogamous pairs often nest in large colonies with other little egrets, other herons, ibises, and cormorants, with nests sometimes only a few feet apart. Nests are built by males and are stick platforms in trees, shrubs, ledges, or reeds. Both parents tend to the eggs and chicks.

Friends & Foes

Chicks in nesting colonies are vulnerable to attacks from hawks, owls, and crows.

Population in Kenya

Little egret populations are robust around Lake Victoria.

Range & Habitat

Little egrets are widespread throughout the Old World, and have begun to expand their range into the Caribbean.

Little egrets are at home around many types of fresh, brackish, and saltwater habitats, including lakes, rivers, ponds, lagoons, marshes, and coastal areas. However, they also need trees or other protected spaces for nesting.

Did you know?

Little egrets frequent livestock fields and catch insects stirred up by cattle.