Chordates • Earth.com

Western reef-egret

(Egretta gularis)

Description

This bird has two plumage colour forms.There is an all-white morph and a dark grey morph;morphs can also occur with intermediate shades of grey which may be related to age or particoloured in grey and white.The white morph is similar in general appearance to the little egret,but has a larger yellower bill,extended yellow on thicker legs,and when foraging tends to be very active,sometimes also moving its wing or using it to shade the water surface.The grey morph has a whitish throat and is unlikely to be confused with any other species within the range of this egret with beak and legs similar to that of the white morph.During the breeding season the legs and facial skin are reddish.Breeding birds have two long feathers on the sides of the nape.The nominate subspecies gularis has a range from West Africa to Gabon,with some birds breeding in southern Europe.Subspecies schistacea (Hemprich & Ehrenberg,1828) breeds from the Persian Gulf along the coast of India to the east of the India Peninsula.The bill of gularis is more pointed while schistacea has the larger bill especially towards the base.The form on the eastern coast of South Africa is usually separated as the dimorphic egret Egretta dimorpha.The dark and white morph is thought to be controlled by a single allele with the dark character being incompletely dominant over the gene for white.

Taxonomic tree:

Domain:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum:
Class: Aves
Order:Pelecaniformes
Family:Ardeidae
Genus:Egretta
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