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Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Cattle Egret in Hamlin

Published November 10, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Cattle Egret

Today, I finally caught up with a Cattle Egret!  I've tried hard for this bird this year. A big thanks to Dave Tetlow who found this one up in Hamlin, and also to Steve Taylor who re-found it the next day and reported it right away. As it turned out, this bird was found just around the corner from where I've looked several times this past month!

Right around noon, Celeste and I arrived at the farm where the egret had been seen. Celeste quickly had her eyes on it and soon, I did too. The Cattle Egret is surprisingly small but its brilliant white coloring made it stand right out from the pasture's greenery. The egret had attached itself to one of the cows and it was acting like it was its new best friend.  Where the cow went, the egret went.  I was nervous for the safety of this little guy as it went under the cow and in-between its massive legs. Fortunately, the egret's quick, darting moves allowed it to dodge the large beast's slow, plodding steps.  Still... one has to wonder about the Cattle Egret's mortality rate out in the farm fields.

You may already know that the Cattle Egret seeks pastures with cattle or horses because it feeds on the insects that the large animals stir up while grazing.  It's quite an interesting relationship. The birds have also been known to ride on the backs of the cattle!  I haven't seen this yet, but I sure hope to one day.  Other than its yellow bill, our bird was all white, lacking the peach coloration that is seen in breeding plumage.

Standing near the fence, we were delighted to see the cow slowly moving in our direction. It made us wonder if it might be curious or even hopeful that we had a snack for it or something.  And as it moved closer to us, so did the egret!  I fired off a ton of photos, very thankful for such a wonderful opportunity.

It was a gorgeous day to be outside and I'm pretty sure I smiled all the way home after that rare and close encounter!
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Cattle Egret following a cow around
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Cattle Egret and its new best friend
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Cattle Egret
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Cattle Egret
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Cattle Egret
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Cattle Egret
Reply from: Myrna Allen on 11/15/2014 12:35 PM
 How wonderful for you. You got some great photos too. I wonder if my son in Texas sees the cattle Egret hanging around his horses.