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Friday, August 10, 2007

Western Reef-Heron, Again

Western Reef-Heron

A Western Reef-Heron showed up again this summer, first seen briefly in South Amboy, NJ on June 30th, then appeared in the vicinity of Brooklyn, NY from July 8th to later in July, then disappeared.
This is very interesting, and brings to mind the Western Reef-Heron that spent so much time in NH and ME last summer.

Previously the N.A records for this mega-rare bird were:
1983 - Nantucket Island from April to Sept.
2005 - Stephenville Crossing, Newfoundland for most of the summer until the beginning of Sept.
2006 - Glace Bay, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, June 26 to early Aug., then showed up again (the same bird?) August 18th in Kittery Maine, spent time there and in New Castle, NH and left on Sept. 20th.

These appearances thrilled many birders, including us, and I was able to take lots of photos of the NH/ME bird,

click here,


and here.

The speculation is, whether the recent sightings in the last three years, including this year, are of the same bird.

It is interesting to look at the photos above I took of the 2006 NH/ME bird, and compare them to some recent photos of the Brooklyn bird.

click here,

and here.

I noticed that both birds have a dark facial mark in just about the same place, in the white area of the face below the left eye. Some photos show this better than others, depending on the exposure of the photo. Interesting. One wonders if that type of a mark would consistently stay on a bird through its annual molt cycle, in which birds replace their feathers. These birds are not color banded, so we can only speculate on whether the appearances are of the same individual.

Still, it's intriguing, and exciting, that a Western Reef-Heron has made another appearance in North America, not too far from where appearances have occurred before. We wonder where, and when, it will show up again. Keep looking.........

Photos, © Lillian Stokes, 2007

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