Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

The general public who see unusual birds and report them to the winging it e-mail at The Telegram or to a friend known to "bird" is so important to documenting the many rare visitors to our province. Such was the case with this visiting Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. One walker verbally reported the sighting of a very different bird to a well-known birder who began the reporting cycle. Another walker around Quidi Vidi Lake took a picture with a cell phone and sent it to Bruce MacTavish at The Telegram.  It didn't take long for the bird community to identify this "different" bird as a juvenile Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.
In less than 24 hours the hunt was well underway for this special bird and it was spotted and reported quickly when it was seen eating worms on the grass around the lake. The bird flew up into a tree as people gathered where it stayed for at least an hour.

I had walked around the lake earlier that morning and couldn't find the bird. Another birder walked in the opposite direction and came up empty handed, as well.

I left there and went to check at Virginia Lake, Long Pond, the bog behind Confederation Building, getting pretty wet all the while, but failed to find the bird. Before heading home, I decided to return to QV one more time to see if any one had any luck. I checked out the Southeast end of the lake and was in my car when the call came: "The bird had been found near the boat house." I quickly scurried around to the other end of the lake and met two other birders on the way. There it was sitting up in a Maple Tree frozen in place. I didn't have much time left to linger so I had to head out but I had a smile on my face. Those who stayed got a much better look as the Night-Heron flew down out of the tree and landed on a fence where it was fully exposed.

The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron's typical range is the swatch of states that range from Southern New England, south to Florida and west to Texas. It usually feeds on crustaceans and can be found near fresh water or salt water. This rare vagrant was not seen again since late on that day in mid-August. It was probably there for 48 hours in total. It must have moved to a less busy marshy, area and I count myself lucky to have been able to see it. It is because this Night-Heron remains active during the day that we all got a look.

This is not the first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron to visit the island and hopefully, it won't be the last. Thanks to all who see the rare birds and tell somebody!

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