BHUBANESWAR: FOR the first time, a single melanistic Cattle Egret with prominent black colouration has been spotted by a member of Wild Orissa in Tangi region of Khurda district.The bird, bearing the scientific name Bubulcus ibis, was spotted by Wild Orissa vice-chairman Nanda Kishore Bhujabal first on September 1 and then on September 21.
“Though both the specimens are a little different, both of them had unique dark melanistic colouration on their feathers which have been the first record of any melanistic Cattle Egret in Odisha,” Bhujabal said and added that they appeared to be adult Cattle Egrets possessing breeding plumage on the back with buff plumes.Cattle Egret is normally white in colour with buff plumes during breeding season.
The melanistic Cattle Egrets which have been documented by Bhujabal at Tangi, appeared like a strange-looking small egret at the first sight. “Their plumages were dark, with some pale, with white areas on the primaries and a black throat. Feathers on the crown and mantle were also blackish. The bill was orange with a paler tip, while the inner part of the upper mandible showed a striking yellow coloration,” Bhujabal explained.Wild Orissa members said the documentation by Bhujabal is significant as it is the first documentation of melanistic Cattle Egret in Odisha.
A research undertaken by Wild Orissa members also revealed that a similar sighting of a melanistic Cattle Egret had been made in Yemen during 1986 by ornithologist S Fairman. Another similar specimen had also been recorded in New Jersey, USA during 1987 by David Sibley. Similar reports of Melanistic Cattle Egret have been reported from South Africa, Florida (USA) and Illinois (USA), Nigeria, India, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Barbados, Dominica, Florida, and California.During October 2017 a bluish coloured Cattle Egret was recorded in Guwahati by an ornithologist. After that there were no further reports from India till this year.