Thursday 14 May 2015

A dull Snowy Egret in Spring

Photo: 14 May 2015, Biscay Bay, Avalon Peninsula, Newfoundland

A somewhat off the grid looking egret.  The black bill and black legs leave only one obvious answer in most of North America, a Snowy Egret with a few parts missing. Where is the bright yellow lore, the feathery crest and why are the legs less than a shiny ebony?

Another look at the same bird confirming that the classic Snowy Egret bright yellow lores and crest of any kind is not there.

Another picture which thankfully shows the golden slippers characteristic of Snowy Egret but also Little Egret. The lighting is good for revealing the actual colour of the lores: a dull dirty yellow but still no crest.

Here is a Snowy Egret photographed at Virginia Lake. St. John's Newfoundland 24 July 2006. Relief at last. A Snowy Egret looking like we expect them to look after years of looking at them in the book. You don't even need to see the yellow feet with bright yellow lores and shiny black bill and legs like this.

A Little Egret at Little Harbour East, Placentia Bay, NF May 21 2013.  It shows the classic dual white ribbon head plumes and bluish lores.

The photo presented of May 14 2015 bird do not readily fit either the confirmed Snowy Egret or a Little Egret pictured here.  To complicate matters, Little Egrets at the height of breeding season can show yellow lores.  This bird is not in high breeding plumage since it does not exhibit much in the way of head plumes and the bill and legs look a dull uneven dullblack.  Any yellow in the lores of a Little Egret should occur only during the height of the breeding plumage at which time the two  head plume ribbons would be evident.

If you watched the bird long enough rudimentary feathery head plumes blew up in the wind totally supporting the identification as Snowy Egret. But over all an unusual individual Snowy Egret to see during spring in Newfoundland where both Snowy and Little Egret are nearly equally rare in spring.



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