How Cattle Egrets Took Over the World

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Colonization and human agricultural expansion may have helped cattle egrets – the white bird almost always seen with a herd of cows – populate nearly all seven continents. Scientists speculate that the unassuming birds first landed in the Americas from Senegal and Zaire, and likely settled because they had a reliable food source in the pests and insects that were brought to the surface by the hooves of cows. Today, these egrets have expanded to feast near human settlements like parks, wastewater treatment plants, and even airport runways.
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