posted May 22nd, 2013; last edited May 22nd, 2013 –– David Sibley

Another odd Snowy Egret, or a hybrid?

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.

Unusual egret at Cockle Cove in Chatham, MA, 16 May 2013. Photo copyright Mary Keleher, used by permission. Clicking the photo links to the original on Flickr.

Unusual egret at Cockle Cove in Chatham, MA, 16 May 2013. Photo copyright Mary Keleher, used by permission. Clicking the photo links to the original on Flickr.

Unusual egret at Cockle Cove in Chatham, MA, 16 May 2013. Photo copyright Mary Keleher, used by permission. Clicking the photo links to the original on Flickr.

Unusual egret at Cockle Cove in Chatham, MA, 16 May 2013. Photo copyright Mary Keleher, used by permission. Clicking the photo links to the original on Flickr.

Thanks to Mary Keleher for noticing the bird and allowing the use of her photos here.

2 comments to Another odd Snowy Egret, or a hybrid?

  • David, FYI here’s a bird with an unusual plume, from Texas in May 1998:
    http://www.martinreid.com/Main%20website/egrets2.html
    Martin

  • Jody M Clark

    Good Morning Mr Sibley, I hope you are out in a blind somewhere watching a fascinating bird or two.

    Yesterday I used your original guide to move from Lapland Longspur to American Pipit for a wading bird that visually stumped me. Your description of habits nailed the difference.

    It’s a delight to have this Mother’s Day 2001 gift continue to help me enjoy identifying the birds I photograph.

    This blog note has helped me think about an egret I captured (photo) in Maine 4 years ago. Thank you, Jody

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