Date: 9/13/17 8:18 am
From: Brodie Lewis <brodietlewis...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Malheur Narrows Egrets
One thing that stuck with me from looking at the birds was that while they
weren't easy ID's, they're also noticeably different from each other. The
"cattle" is noticeably smaller with a shorter, more yellow bill. If there
was a hybridization and they were nest mates, this would be possible, I

The other thing I noticed is that when I was watching them, it was the LBHE
that was harassing the CAEG (I'm just using these as labels, as I agree it
can't be considered a pure cattle egret), the opposite of what Matt
observed. I even have a photo of the larger bird nipping at the smaller one.

For the more reliable heron experts out there: I could see the smaller bird
being of mixed parentage, as it seems to show traits of different birds,
but is there any reason to suggest the larger bird is anything other than
pure LBHE?

Maybe they are nest mates, but brothers from a different mother, or sisters
from a different mister...

Maupin, Or

On Sep 13, 2017 00:51, "Tim Janzen" <tjanzen...> wrote:

> Dear Matt,
> In my opinion, the dusky blue coloration in the wings seen in photo
> ML68686581 at trumps the
> fact the bird has black on the legs. I don’t think that a Snowy Egret can
> ever show as much blue coloration as is seen in the bird in this photo.
> There are other features on this bird that also suggest LBH. The overall
> bill coloration and the thickness of the bill are also strongly suggestive
> of LBH and not of Snowy Egret. The legs of the bird in photo ML68686611
> seem consistent with LBH in my opinion. They are basically greenish
> yellow. The bill coloration in photos ML68686611 and ML68686621 is also
> consistent with LBH. Another reference that reviews field marks for
> immature Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons is Ken Kaufman’s book
> “Advanced Birding”. In that book on p. 35 Ken states that “The plumage of
> Snowy Egret is all white at all stages, but the Little Blue is never pure
> white: even in the youngest immature the tips of the outer primaries are
> gray.” I see no reason to think that either bird (assuming that two
> different birds were photographed) must be a hybrid. I think that light
> conditions are making the bill of the bird in ML68686611 appear more yellow
> than it really is. The photo appears to have been taken late in the
> afternoon. The bill is far too long for a Cattle Egret.
> Sincerely,
> Tim Janzen
> *From:* Matt Cahill [mailto:<matt.c.cahill...>]
> *Sent:* Tuesday, September 12, 2017 11:12 PM
> *To:* Shawneen Finnegan
> *Cc:* Jeff Gilligan; Tim Janzen; OBOL
> *Subject:* Re: [obol] Re: Malheur Narrows Egrets
> Hi all,
> I went back out to see the hegrets this afternoon, to watch them interact
> and take a few more photographs. I expected to confirm my doubts about the
> (potential) little blue, instead I walked away doubting the (potential)
> cattle egret even more. Back home in Bend, I read this thread and some
> additional resources and developed my own theory. Read on if you're still
> enjoying this ID challenge as much as I am.
> David Sibley has a very helpful article (I think) on differences between
> snowy egrets and juvenile little blues, the only difficult heron ID in his
> opinion. The article is here:
> 2012/08/distinguishing-immature-white-little-blue-heron-from-snowy-egret
> He writes extensively about how habit is a very useful ID trait. In short
> summation, both of the mystery hegrets behave much more like little blues
> than snowies (so I think). But more definitively, Sibley writes that little
> blue heron "wingtips show small dark gray tips on outer
> primaries...[and] are diagnostic". Both birds do show this trait in some of
> my photos, one more extensively than the other. See the fourth photo from
> yesterday's checklist (I added more from my SLR):
> view/checklist/S39142883
> Sibley continues that the "presence of black [on the legs] is diagnostic
> for Snowy Egret, as is contrasting yellow feet." Both birds show nearly
> identical leg and foot coloration: a complex pattern of yellow and black.
> But definitely black. See today's checklist for a good comparison:
> These two traits are contradictory. Both birds have 'diagnostic' qualities
> of both snowy egrets and little blues, with habit supporting LBH's. But to
> further complicated it, the 'cattle egret' individual has a very yellow
> bill which if looked at in isolation (along with the surrounding gape)
> looks very much like a cattle egret, to me. Sibley writes that snowies have
> a "bill usually darker [than LBHs] with blackish on culmen extending back
> close to forehead". Sifting through Google Images, I can't find any photos
> of LBH's or Snowies of any age having such a yellow bill as the 'cattle
> egret' individual.
> Interestingly, it is easy to find pictures of juvenile Cattle Egrets with
> similar leg patterns as both of our individuals. Which leads me to a theory
> I'll offer. Could it be that both of these birds are Cattle Egret x Little
> Blue Heron hybrids? Such a hybrid could show the same leg and foot pattern,
> wing pattern, and variety of bill shapes and colors as our friends at the
> Narrows. Could it be even further that these two birds are nest mates? It
> doesn't seem completely beyond logic that a little blue and a cattle egret,
> both near the edge of their range and finding no appropriate mate instead
> found each other. Then their offspring found an incredible bounty of dying
> carp at the Narrows. I could be reading into it, but the birds seem to like
> each other, in a sibling rivalry kind of way!
> In short, I don't see how we can claim either bird is a pure Snowy Egret,
> Little Blue Heron or Cattle Egret, at least not based on resources I've
> found. A far-flung Asian species is exciting, but seems harder to stick
> than a native hybrid. Putting the pieces together, this is the outcome I've
> found. Would love other's thoughts.
> Thanks for reading!
> Matt Cahill
> Bend

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