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Species Guide
A photo of a Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)
Intermediate Egret

Intermediate Egret

Ardea intermedia

The intermediate egret, also known as the median egret, smaller egret, or medium egret, is a medium-sized heron with a graceful stature. It is adorned with all-white plumage, and during the breeding season, it may exhibit a reddish or black bill, greenish-yellow gape skin, and loose filamentous plumes on its breast and back. The legs are generally dark, and the bill is thickish and yellow, with regional variations in coloration. Both sexes are similar in appearance.

Identification Tips

This egret stands between 56–72 cm (22–28 in) in length, with a wingspan of 105–115 cm (41–45 in), and weighs approximately 400 g (14 oz). It can be distinguished from other egrets by its size, which is intermediate between the great egret and smaller white egrets such as the little egret and cattle egret. The intermediate egret has a slightly domed head and a shorter, thicker bill compared to the great egret. Its gape line ends below the eye, and it has a neck length slightly less than its body length.


The intermediate egret is a resident breeder in southern and eastern Asia, favoring shallow coastal or freshwater environments, including flooded fields.


This species is found across Asia, from the Russian Far East to Japan, India, and the Greater Sundas. It is also present in sub-Saharan Africa, eastern Indonesia, New Guinea, and Australia.


The intermediate egret is known for its methodical stalking of prey in shallow waters. It often nests in colonies with other herons, constructing platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs. The bird is a successful breeder, particularly in wet years, and exhibits protective behavior over its nest and young.

Song & Calls

The intermediate egret is typically silent, but during the breeding season, it may produce a variety of calls at the nesting colony.


Breeding intermediate egrets may have a reddish or black bill and display loose filamentous plumes on their breast and back. They lay clutches of 2 to 6 pale green eggs, which are incubated by both parents. The chicks hatch asynchronously and are brooded for 12 days, with fledging occurring around 40 days old.

Similar Species

The intermediate egret can be confused with the great egret, which has a longer neck with a kink and a longer bill that aligns with the flat top of its head. The little egret, another similar species, has yellow-soled feet and a black bill, and it often runs after fish in shallow water.

Diet and Feeding

Its diet consists of fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects, which it hunts by stalking methodically in shallow waters.

Conservation status

The intermediate egret is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that it is not currently at significant risk of extinction in the wild.

Intermediate Egret Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Intermediate Egrets on Birda


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