Little Egret x Western Reef-Heron hybrid, Santa Luzia (Algarve, Portugal), October 2006 - copyright Henrique Oliveira Pires
(photo ID: 2129)
In recent years a small number of Western Reef-Herons have been identified amongst colonies of Little Egrets in southern Europe. These have bred with the Little Egrets and some hybrids have been observed. Henrique Oliveira Pires has been fortunate to capture one such hybrid in southern Portugal on a couple of occasions.
It differs from pure Western Reef-Heron in a number of ways, including the all-dark legs and finer bill, but the identification of these two species is not always easy even without hybrids. Henrique had photographed a similar bird at the same place five years previously - shown below. Perhaps this was the same bird as a similar individual was photographed in the area by Ray Tipper in the years in between. His photos taken in January 2001 and November 2002 were published in Birding World 14.2: 55 and Birding World 15.11: 462.
Little Egret x Western Reef-Heron hybrid, Santa Luzia (Algarve, Portugal), October 2001 - copyright Henrique Oliveira Pires
(photo ID: 2130)
Little Egret Egretta garzetta
Western Reef-Heron Egretta gularis