This photo of a flock of cattle egrets demonstrates one aspect of their behavior. They roost communally. They are called cattle egrets because they go out to pastures and feed on the insects stirred up by the hoofs of cattle grazing.
This flock of cattle egrets was on the banks of the Tempisque River in Palo Verde National Park. The boat excursions for wildlife viewing offer opportunities to see lots of birds. Cattle egrets are among the easiest birds to spot, as they are plentiful and their white color stands out regardless if they are roosting along a river bank or in smaller numbers with cows in a pasture.
Cattle egrets were originally native to Spain and Portugal, and from there spread to Africa, Asia and made it across the Atlantic to South America in the late 1800's. The first recorded breeding of cattle egrets in Costa Rica did not occur until the 1950's.
Cattle egrets have spread in part because they are well adapted to the deforestation and spread of farms and ranches, with greater numbers of cattle or other livestock.
Cattle egrets are among the smaller herons. They are up to 51 cm (20 in.) in length.