Cattle Egret, South of Penn Station


My photo of today’s Cattle Egret


Ever since last October, when strong winds and rain brought at least several Cattle Egrets to the area (Van Cortlandt Park and Brooklyn), I have been expecting a Manhattan occurrence at some point. I figured it would come as a flyover, most likely over the Hudson but possibly anywhere. An appearance on the fields or marshes of Inwood Hill Park or Randall’s Island would have been another likely possibility.

So it came as a huge surprise when today (11 April 2017) I saw an NYSBirds post at 10:33 a.m. announcing a Cattle Egret on a lawn between 8th and 9th Avenues and between 28th and 29th Streets in Manhattan.

I had been birding the Ramble, so I had a head start on getting there. I ran to the west-side subway and caught a train to Penn Station. Another short run from there and I was on the scene in twenty minutes.

The egret was on walking on a “lawn” with much bare ground. It came within twenty feet of me, and did not seem overly bothered when other birders arrived.

I learned that it had been at this location at least since yesterday. Someone informed NYC Audubon about it, and then NYC Audubon issued the alert.

It was a life Manhattan bird for me and for every one of the dozens who came to see it — the first confirmed record of the species in Manhattan as far as I know, and certainly the first such on eBird.