Illustrator Christina Mattison Ebert shares depictions and information on coastal birds
The aptly named cattle egret is perhaps the easiest bird to identify on the Texas Gulf Coast, as they generally strut behind or perch atop cows, horses and other grazing animals. This foraging bird, which can be spotted here year-round, cleverly hangs out alongside bovine and equine friends to feast on the insects and small vertebrates stirred up by the animals’ movements. The cattle egret also consumes the ready supply of ticks and parasites on its grazing buddies’ bodies, making the relationship mutually beneficial. A common site in fields and pastures all around the world, the cattle egret might also be seen tailing tortoises, ostriches, camels, rhinos and hippos.
FUN FACT: When the Maasai people of Africa see large amounts of cattle egrets, they consider it a harbinger of drought and often move their cattle herds as a result.