Sunday, July 15, 2007

Western Reef-Heron in Brooklyn (NYC)

An exceptionally rare find of a Western Reef-Heron (or if you prefer, Western Reef-Egret) was made by Alex Wilson on July 8th at Dreier-Offerman Park in Brooklyn - now apparently renamed Calvert Vaux park, not that this location would have been appreciated by Mr. Vaux in it's current form. Apparently quite wide-ranging, this bird was also sighted from Staten Island and also from Sandy Hook. It was also not entirely reliable at the Brooklyn location, but nevertheless many people got to see this remarkable rarity. Western Reef-Herons have been cropping up on the east coast over the last few years. There was one in Newfoundland in the summer of 2005. There was one in Nova Scotia from June-August 2006, and another one or the same one in Maine and NH August-Sept. 2006. Apparently prior to this cluster of sightings the only other record was from Nantucket (MA) in 1983. Either we're getting really good at finding Western Reef-Herons or they are getting really good at finding us. The species is apparently closely related to Little Egret (itself very rare in the US) and some authorities consider it a subspecies of that - there appears to be no firm consensus on the situation as of now.