Driving along Rt. 17 in Addison yesterday I was surprised to see four small white Egrets in a field walking around at the feet of some cows, but from that behavior, I knew what they were right away. Cattle Egrets have made one of the most well documented invasions into the Americas, done by themselves without direct intervention from humans. Originally from Africa and Southern Europe, they made their way to South America over 150 years ago, possibly blown there accidentally or maybe as part of a natural wanderlust, and established themselves there taking advantage the herds of cows imported by humans. Cattle Egrets favorite mode of feeding is to follow cows around fields as they graze and snatch up insects and other things that are stirred up by them. By the 1950s, they had reached the United States, and now they are know as far north as Saskatchewan.  There has been a known population of Cattle Egrets at Shelburne Farms in Chittenden County for over a decade now, but here in Addison County they have only been reported during migration.

– Ron Payne

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