Recently on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Mary Keleher noticed an egret with two long head plumes, and took a couple of photos. This bird matches well with the ones I discussed in 2011 in a previous blog post
Little Egrets have been showing up in the northeast regularly enough for the last couple of decades that one or more could have paired with a Snowy Egret and raised young, thus hybrids are plausible. In my earlier blog post I mention similar “long-plumed” Snowy Egrets from Texas and Baja California, where Little Egrets or hybrids are unlikely, and maybe the concentration of such birds in New England is simply a matter of birders paying close attention to plumes there.
But I still have to ask the question: Can we be sure this is not a hybrid, and how would we know? Hopefully this one will stick around for more detailed study and some of the questions can be resolved.
Thanks to Mary Keleher for noticing the bird and allowing the use of her photos here.