It was like seeing the ghost of summer’s past. I was driving home from work today when I spotted something unusual. A large white bird flying out of the tops of the trees, across the road and towards a small wooded creek. The bird was too big and too white to be a gull. What could it be?
In fact it was a Great American Egret! But what could this tall stately bird of summer being doing here in the middle of winter?
Normally, Great Egrets are seen around New York Harbor from spring through autumn. Very rarely is one spotted during the winter season, unless temperatures are averaging way above normal, which they were in December, but certainly not January. For the past few days, high temperatures have been hovering in the chilly low to mid 30s,
Even more odd was to see one before a predicted huge snowfall was about to hit the region the next day with over a foot of snow. It was a bit startling and perplexing. Was this bird lost?
Many egrets, which call New York Harbor home during the breeding season, will spend the winter season down south in Chesapeake Bay or the Outer Banks of North Carolina. They usually don’t return to the harbor until sometime in April.
As long as this lone egret can find food, it should do well. For food, Great Egrets generally eat fish, but can also survive on crabs, frogs, snakes, insects, and even an occasional mouse. No doubt the brilliant white color of the egret’s feathers will help it blend in and keep it safe within the freshly snowed landscape.
Never a dull moment around this urban jungle.