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Monday, October 02, 2006

Western Reef-Heron last reported 9/20/06

This Western Reef-Heron that has been thrilling U.S. birders since its first appearance in Kittery Point, ME on 8/18/06 seems to have left. On 9/18/06 some birders saw the Western Reef-Heron fly with Snowy Egrets, to an evening roost on the Isles of Shoals, about 5 miles off the NH coast. That was the first time it was confirmed roosting there, although birders suspected all along it had been going there at night. It was last reported on the NHBirds listserv on 9/20/06 near Rt. 1B in New Castle. It had regularly been seen in that vicinity since 8/19/06, when first discovered in NH.

Who knows where it will go next. We thought it might stop in Barbados, where there is a breeding colony of Little Egrets and Western Reef-Herons have been know to show up there. In a communication from E. Massiah, who studies the breeding colony of Little Egrets there, he noted that "dark morph Little Egrets have never occcurred in Barbados". He did say that they had a WesternReef-Heron, similar to our photo, several years ago in November.

The taxonomy of Western Reef-Heron is still being worked on and some authorities think Western Reef-Heron is really a southern subspecies of Little Egret.

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