Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cattle Egrets hanging out with (you guessed it) cattle near Parma

On July 19 a group of Cattle Egrets was discovered hanging out with some cattle (surprise!) on some farm fields just outside of town in Parma, near the Idaho-Oregon border. Cattle Egrets can be difficult to find in Idaho. Most Cattle Egrets found in Idaho are in the southeast corner of the state, with just a handful of records in the southwest corner, only one record in northern Idaho.

Map eBird map of Cattle Egret records in southwest Idaho through the end of 2013.

We were excited to try to track one down a little closer to home and headed out on July 21 to try to fine them. On our first trip we had plenty of egrets, but all of them were Great, rather than Cattle.

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Farm fields where the Cattle Egret was reported near Parma, Canyon County. July 21, 2014.

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Great Egret near Parma, Canyon County. July 21, 2014.

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Great Egret near Parma, Canyon County. July 21, 2014.

We couldn’t find it on our first trip, but others kept finding them off and on throughout the next couple of weeks, and on August 3 we got a chance to try again. This time, after a couple of passes, we finally spotted the little guys running around between the cows legs, right where we had checked the first time. After keeping an eye on the fields we eventually found 3 of them.

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Cattle Egret near Parma, Boise County. August 3, 2014.

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Cattle Egret near Parma, Boise County. August 3, 2014.

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Cattle Egret near Parma, Boise County. August 3, 2014.

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Cattle Egret near Parma, Boise County. August 3, 2014.

While we were looking for the egrets, we met a guy who was curious what we were looking at in the fields. We told him we were looking for a Cattle Egret and tried to describe how it was different from the Great Egrets that are common in this area. After we described the size difference, this fellow told us he’d been seeing these birds all summer long! I’m not 100% confident that he really knew the difference between the two, but he kept calling them “little guys” and “shorty”, so maybe he does. If that’s the case then maybe they’re breeding in the area and could be found again next year. We’ll be sure to check it out and see if we can track them down again next summer.

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Cattle Egret near Parma, Boise County. August 3, 2014.

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