I agree with the Jeff that the bird labeled as a Cattle Egret isn’t a Cattle Egret. The bill is far too long to be a Cattle Egret. Why isn’t this bird a Little Blue Heron? The legs look fine for Little Blue Heron. The bill is about the right length and thickness. Both photos of the bird (ML68686611 and ML68686621) show dark blue areas of feathering in the wings. Are there two Little Blue Herons at the Narrows or did Matt simply take two additional photos of the Little Blue Heron and then label them as “Cattle Egret”?
From: <obol-bounce...> [mailto:<obol-bounce...>] On Behalf Of Jeff Gilligan
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 8:05 PM
Cc: OBOL Birders Online
Subject: [obol] Re: Malheur Narrows Egrets
I am convinced that the bird labeled a Cattle Egret is not one. After getting the message from an expert on western Asian birds, I am seriously considering Swinhoe’s (Chinese) Egret as a possibility. I cannot see why it isn’t one.
A Swinhoe’s Egret (better name than Chinese because they are not restricted to China) has made it to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands (as has Little Egret and Intermediate Egret). If one can make it to the Aleutians, one can make it to Oregon. Keep taking photos. Stranger things have happened, though not many. There may be a good reason why we have been struggling with the photos of this bird.
On Sep 12, 2017, at 9:22 AM, Matt Cahill <matt.c.cahill...> wrote:
I went and watched the herons and egrets at the Narrows yesterday afternoon for about an hour. All of the suspect birds were in attendance - the snowy egret was in the eastern pond, the cattle egret / little blue were in the small pond between the road sections.
As many have surmised, it's a surprisingly difficult ID on those two small egrets-herons. There's plenty of photos and comments on plumage already. I'd add to the discussion, the 'personalities' of the two birds were quite different. The suspect little blue behaved much more cautiously than the cattle egret, moving more slowly around the pond and watching the water with it's neck extended for long periods of time. The cattle egret arrived after I did, and immediately set forth hunting the pond, covering the same shoreline as the little blue in a fraction of the time. I watched it aggressively chase the little blue several times, and bully it for a fish meal.
Not that individuals of the same species can't have different personalities, nor to deny the subjectivity involved, but those 'personalities' matched my expectations for both birds. I spent lots of hours in the Florida Keys watching little blues and they always appeared coy and bookish. And cattle egrets, well they can sure seem like bullies to me.