Date of this Version
Dinsmore, "First Record of a Reddish Egret for Nebraska," from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2001) 69(1).
On 27 September 2000, I was birding the west end of Lake McConaughy from Marina Landing. At 2:15 p.m., I noticed a few egrets farther east off Cedar Vue. By 2:30 p.m. I had arrived at Cedar Vue and began looking over the egrets. The egrets were loosely scattered in a small area with numerous Great Blue Herons, approximately 400m from the north shore of the lake. There were six egrets present--4 Great Egrets, 1 Snowy Egret, and an intermediate-sized bird that I identified as a white morph Reddish Egret. The Reddish Egret foraged for about half an hour and then flew to some snags in the middle of the mudflat and was sleeping by 3:30 p.m. I returned at 5:15 p.m. and found the bird actively foraging with the Snowy Egret within 200m of the north shore. By 6 p.m., the bird had returned to its roost in the middle of the mudflat and was asleep when I left the area at 6:08 p.m.
During the initial observation period, the bird was often in the company of Snowy and Great egrets, allowing for direct comparisons to both species. The bird was noticeably larger than a Snowy Egret and only slightly smaller than a Great Egret under direct comparisons to both species. The plumage was entirely white with no dark mottling or dusky wingtips. There were a few scraggly plumes along the sides of the neck, but these were not as extensive as those of an adult Reddish Egret. The bill was long, dagger-shaped, and in good light appeared light gray with the distal 5% black. The bill was essentially a large replica of a Snowy Egret's bill, and was noticeably thinner (especially at the base) than a Great Egret. I estimated that the bill was at least 90% of the length of a Great Egret's bill. At times, the facial skin appeared to be pale (probably pink), but I could not adequately discern the specific color because of the distance and lighting. The eye was yellow with a black iris. The legs were a very dark gray/black color with no yellow color on the legs or feet. Although the bird appeared white when perched, I thought it showed a pale gray cast (especially on the wings) in flight, but this could have been due to backlighting. The bird's behavior was very distinctive and typical of a Reddish Egret. When feeding, the bird began with a low, crouched trot that gradually became a run. At the end of the run, the bird would raise its neck, spread one or both wings, take a few erratic steps, and then jab at something in the water. This process was repeated continuously, and the bird covered a lot of ground when feeding.