Chinese Egret (Egretta eulophotes)

Chinese Egret

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ardeidae | [latin] Egretta eulophotes | [authority] Swinhoe, 1860 | [UK] Chinese Egret | [FR] Aigrette de Chine | [DE] Schneereiher | [ES] Garceta China | [NL] Chinese Zilverreiger


Monotypic species


Egretta is a genus of medium-sized herons, mostly breeding in warmer climates. Representatives of this family are found in most of the world, and the Little Egret, as well as being widespread throughout much of the Old World, has now started to colonise the Americas. Little Egret Egretta garzetta in Kolleru, Andhra Pradesh, India.These are typical egrets in shape, long-necked and long-legged. There are few plumage features in common, although several have plumes in breeding plumage; a number of species are either white in all plumages, have a white morph (e.g. Reddish Egret), or have a white juvenile plumage (Little Blue Heron). The breeding habitat of Egretta herons is marshy wetlands in warm countries. They nest in colonies, often with other wading birds, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

Physical charateristics

Full-crested, white egret with yellow bill. Breeding adults have blue facial skin, shortish, shaggy nape plumes, long back and breast plumes, blackish legs and greenish-yellow feet. White morph Pacific Reef Egret E. sacra has shorter, less pointed bill and shorter legs. Little Egret E. garzetta shows more contrast between yellow feet and black legs and has less extensive pale area on lower mandible

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 65 cm size max.: 68 cm
incubation min.: 24 days incubation max.: 26 days
fledging min.: 36 days fledging max.: 40 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : East. Egretta eulophotes breeds on small islands off the coasts of eastern Russia, North Korea, South Korea and mainland China. It formerly bred in Taiwan (China) and Hong Kong (China), but is now only a non-breeding visitor or passage migrant. It is also a non-breeding visitor to Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Peninsular and eastern Malaysia (Sarawak), Singapore, Indonesia (Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi) and Brunei.


It occurs in shallow tidal estuaries, mudflats and bays, occasionally visiting paddy-fields and fishponds. Since 1985, all breeding records have been from offshore islands


Simple disc-shaped nests of straw and creeping plants are built on trees, low bushes or rocks in North Korea and China. The nest is usually placed 12-18 m above the ground near the tops of tall trees. Compact colonies are sometimes formed f.e. 14 nests were found on a cliff-face of about 20 m2, and another 11 nests were found on a cliff-face of about 10 m2, with distances between nests were c.14-76 cm. The normal clutch appears to be 3-5 eggs with incubation to be 24-26 days. In North Korea, most incubation is undertaken by females. Of all eggs laid early in the season (May to June), 84% hatched, while those found in nests in late July were not fertile; nestlings remained in the nest for 36-40 days being fed mainly by the female parent, on fish and sometimes crabs.

Feeding habits

Birds are active when feeding, following the receding tide and running after mobile prey with opened wings, and often feeding in the company of other heron species. Chinese Egret has also been observed to walk and occasionally run a short distance in mud before stabbing with the bill. Birds roosting at high tide on fish-trap stakes were seen to catch shrimps from just below the surface by jumping feet-first into the water, wings held high. Food appears to be mainly small fish and shrimps, but crabs are also taken and probably insects on land.

Video Chinese Egret


copyright: horukuru


This species has a small, declining population, principally as a result of the reclamation of tidal mudflats and estuarine habitats for industry, infrastructure development and aquaculture. These factors qualify it as Vulnerable.
By the end of the 19th century, it had almost been extirpated by trade in its plumes and persecution. Today, the greatest threat is habitat loss and degradation through reclamation of tidal flats and estuarine habitats for infrastructure, industry, aquaculture and agriculture, and through pollution. Fishers in Liaoning, China, collect eggs for food and breeding birds are threatened by disturbance. The rapid decline of a colony at Shin-do, South Korea, in the early 1990s, was apparently a result of disturbance by photographers.
Chinese Egret status Vulnerable


Migratory; probably also performs post-breeding dispersal. Arrives at colonies in Korea in early May, where remains till Sept; Apr-Aug in Hong Kong. After breeding moves off towards Japan and Ryukyu Is; in Japan is regular but rare migrant Apr-Jun and Jul-Aug. Recent data indicate main winter quarters in Philippines, on Luzon, Palawan and Bohol; also in Sarawak, Borneo, and Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Sumatra. Accidental to Aleutian Is, Burma, Sulawesi, Comoros Is, and erroneously recorded from Christmas I (Indian Ocean).

Distribution map

Chinese Egret distribution range map

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