Downtown dweller Patrick Sheldon was the first of several readers to report on Lower Manhattan’s newest celebrity resident: an as-yet-unnamed Great Egret. Spotted for the first time at a paddle-board race at North Cove Marina on September 25, this majestic creature was seen stalking a mouse. (Egrets, like all herons, subsist on fish, frogs, and small mammals and reptiles—all of which it spears with its long, sharp bill.) This specimen appears to have a four-foot-plus wingspan, which is about mid-range for its species, Casmerodius albus. The Great Egret was nearly hunted to extinction in the 1800s, when the fashion industry craved its plumes for the ladies’ hat trade. But conservationists scored an early victory by combatting hunters and protecting colonies, thus inspiring the creation of the National Audubon Society, which adopted the noble bird as its official symbol. More recently, he has been observed near the Irish Hunger Memorial, on Murray Street, at the Oval Lawn near Brookfield Place, watching the grass being cut in Rockefeller Park, and dodging curious children on Gateway Plaza’s ring road. Here’s wishing him better luck than Zelda, the wild turkey who lived in Lower Manhattan for almost a decade, before becoming a traffic fatality in 2014.
“Great Egrets are in full autumn migration right now. They are liable to be anywhere.
I am certain there are some at Inwood Park, in Central Park, and along the river off the west side of Manhattan at low tide.
Right now the entire estuary is glutted with many millions of young-of-year river herring, shad, and striped bass. The egret’s migration, as well as the fishes migration, is part of the wonderful timing, a delicate balance, that we recognize in the river. ”
September 24 ~ Downtown resident Patrick Sheldon reports a sighting:
Meet the Great Egret, also known as the Common Egret. That long neck is pulled in when he flies and those wings appeared to be more than 4 feet across in the air. The egret can have 4-5 foot wingspans.