Western Cattle Egrets are the smallest of the white egrets; they are medium-sized heron-like birds, about 46 to 56 cm long with a wingspan of about 88 to96 cm.  The average weight of the adult bird is about 360 g, and males and females are about the same size. They have a thick neck and a long sharp bill, which is black in juveniles and yellow in adults. The non-breeding adults have greyish-yellow legs; during the breeding season, however, the legs become bright red. Although darker in males, both the male and female grow orange breeding plumage during the breeding season and show aggressive defensive behavior by erecting their crest. Males defend their territory until they find mates, once paired, both male and female defend the nesting territory together.

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