Egrets, herons start families here

The elegant, shockingly- white great egrets have begun raising their new families, and it won’t be long before they’ll leave York’s Kiwanis Lake for their southern winter homes.

Catch a peak while you can.

Arriving in early spring to the York park, their numbers here have shriveled. As many as 40 nests (including the smaller black-crowned night herons ) were counted in past years, but today, it’s easily less than half of that.

The York Audubon Society hosts a York County Birding Map on its website.

The egrets are easy to spot. They stretch to 3.5 feet tall, and cruise on the air with a 5.5-foot wingspan. They almost sparkle against the dark green evergreen trees in which they nest, although many of those trees are slowly dying and needle-bare.05102020 egret tiny babies

Egrets lay 1-6 eggs, but the largest family observed this year is three chicks. From “All About Birds” and the Cornell Ornithology Lab— ” Not all young that hatch survive the nestling period. Aggression among nestlings is common and large chicks frequently kill their smaller siblings. This behavior, known as siblicide, is not uncommon among birds such as hawks, owls, and herons, and is often a result of poor breeding conditions in a given year.”

The night heron is only two feet tall, with a wingspan of about four feet. In past years, they too, nested in evergreens, most along the Pennsylvania Avenue side. This year, they are nesting on the Kiwanis Lake island, and in deciduous trees along Parkway Blvd. Partly because of their smaller size, and partly because of the camouflaged gray and black colors, you might hear their almost spooky quarky ‘song’ long before you see them. trio 3

Once the chicks fledge, it won’t be long before they’re gone, heading south — as far away as southern Central America.

 

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