Title Info
Common name Egrets, Cattle; Cattle
Scientific name Bubulcus ibis; Bos taurus
Taxonomic group Ardeidae; Bovidae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecological interactions Commensalism
Organisms Animals
Animals Birds; Mammals
Date 1989
Location Monteverde,Puntarenas,Costa Rica,North America

Commensalism: cattle and cattle egrets, Costa Rica. When ecologists discuss commensalisms, relationships in which one organism benefits while the other is neither helped nor hurt, they frequently mention the example of the cattle egret. These handsome members of the heron family regularly forage near grazing cattle. While feeding, cattle inadvertently kick up insects, which the egrets quickly eat. The birds get a good meal, but the cattle receive no benefit or harm. Interestingly, cattle egrets appear to have arrived in the New World on their own from Africa, reaching Costa Rica in 1954.