This is one of the easiest birds to spot in the closes. It can normally be seen in fields and open marsh areas associated with cows and horses, whose parasites it eats. It can often be seen behind tractors as they plough and so uncover small animals which live underground. Among other animals, it also eats fish, frogs, water and land invertebrates, lizards, snakes and mice.
It usually lives in colonies and builds its nests in reedbeds, trees and bushes, not always close to the water.