Cattle Egret – Lancaster County, PA

Alex LamoreauxGeneral News and Info1 Comment

After a long night spent driving back from Illinois and then mothing for a few hours near Lamb’s Gap, I slept in till noon. I woke up to low, dark clouds and little bands of rain. The forecast for the rest of the day was for more and more rain, so there was really no other choice than to go birding. Ian Gardner and I met up and drove over to the Conewago Wetlands outside of Hershey in hopes of shorebirds, but all we could see in the pond was a single Great Egret. Halfway around the pond, we were surprised by another egret that was much smaller and all-white. Its yellow bill, black legs, and strutting behavior were classic fieldmarks for Cattle Egret, over the more likely Little Blue Heron! After a quick walk back to the car for my camera, we returned to get a few photos as it foraged through the grass at the N side of the wetlands. This is a rare but annual visitor to Lancaster County, and the first for this fall. There is a very large nesting colony of Cattle Egrets in northern Delaware that may account for PA’s annual sightings as the egrets temporarily wander northward in late summer, before heading south for the winter.

Juvenile Cattle Egret at Conewago Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Juvenile Cattle Egret at Conewago Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Juvenile Cattle Egret at Conewago Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Juvenile Cattle Egret at Conewago Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Juvenile Cattle Egret at Conewago Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)

Juvenile Cattle Egret at Conewago Wetlands (Photo by Alex Lamoreaux)