Thursday, May 11, 2017

Herons and Egrets

Herons and Egrets Have Arrived

Great Egret
The heavy storm we had over the weekend brought us some special visitors from the south.  The strong winds from the southwest brought migrating birds to our province.  Some, like the herons and egrets described here perhaps overshot their destinations.  No matter how they got here, we are delighted to have them.

Shown above is the Great Egret.  This is a rare species for New Brunswick.  Every year a handful appear here.  They usually move along is a day or two.  We don't know whether they continue to move northward or whether they return south.  We do not have a breeding record for this province but we have enough of them coming here each year to make it possible.  This year so far we have had several reports of Great Egrets.  The one shown above was at White Head Island.

Snowy Egret
The other large white bird is the Snowy Egret, although it is a bit smaller than the Great Egret.  It can be told from the Great Egret by its black bill and its 'golden slippers' (bright yellow feet).  The Snowy Egret is rarer here than the Great Egret but we do get a report or two every year.  This year we have had a report from Saints Rest Marsh in Saint John.

Little Blue Heron
An adult Little Blue Heron appeared at Saints Rest Marsh this week.  It was still there as of yesterday.    This heron is much smaller than the egrets or the Great Blue Heron, being only 61 cm (24 inches) high.  The Great Blue Heron is 117 cm (46 inches) high, just as a reference.  The rain and muddy conditions are providing good feeding conditions for these visitors!  An immature Little Blue Heron was reported yesterday from Jolicure, NB.

The immature Little Blue Heron is more difficult to identify.  It is white and its small size makes it easy to confuse with the Snowy Egret.  The immature Little Blue, however, has a pale grayish or pink bill and pale, dull green legs.  See the photo below.

Little Blue Heron - Immature
The Tricolored Heron is listed as very rare in New Brunswick.  The first one ever recorded in Canada was collected from Nauwigewauk, NB in 1895.  There were very few records after that until the last 50 years when we get a record every year or two usually from Grand Manan or Saints Rest Marsh in Saint John.  There is a Tricolored Heron as this is being posted at Chance Harbour.  See the photo below.  This heron is about the size of a Snowy Egret, about 66 cm (26 inches) long.

Tricolored Heron
There is one more heron, a small one which is seen rarely in New Brunswick.  The Green Heron is only 46 cm (18 inches) long and is very secretive.  Rarely it has bred in the province.  A Green Heron was seen on Grand Manan this past week, on May 5.

Green Heron [Internet Photo]
The Great Blue Heron is our most common heron.  Many have returned now and can been found in marshy areas.  Yesterday I saw at least 12 at Saints Rest Marsh.

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