ABSTRACT

Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis) are active foragers that typically pursue and capture insects flushed by grazing mammals. Arboreal foraging by Cattle Egrets has occasionally been reported, although this behavior appears to be rare, poorly documented, and not well understood. We observed Cattle Egrets arboreally foraging at 2 locations in Myanmar: Yangon University (24 Dec 2018–7 Jan 2019) and Khamti (1 Apr 2019). We observed Cattle Egrets at Yangon University feeding in the canopy of a mango tree (Mangifera indica) on swarms of pollinating insects attracted to flowers. Foraging egrets were scattered throughout the canopy; most remained stationary beside a single flower cluster to catch insects, although on occasion more active behaviors were employed. In Khamti, we observed Cattle Egrets perched on trees above an emergence of winged termite alates (Isoptera). Egrets remained stationary and attempted to capture flying termites in close proximity. Our observations together with other published reports suggest arboreal foraging by Cattle Egrets may occur under the following conditions: (1) when insects are concentrated in trees (e.g., pollinators swarming at flowers) and/or (2) when an elevated perch provides access to flying insects. Our observations at Khamti appear to be the second record of Cattle Egrets among bird assemblages opportunistically preying on alate termites.

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