Pair of Cattle Egrets at Farmington Bay WMA Plus My Childhood Memories of These Birds

/, Cattle Egrets, Davis County, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah/Pair of Cattle Egrets at Farmington Bay WMA Plus My Childhood Memories of These Birds

The first time I remember seeing Cattle Egrets I was a child who had just moved to interior Florida, I think I was in the second grade at the time or about 7 to 8 years old and these white birds that followed cattle around seemed so fascinating and exotic to me.

Cattle Egret in the marsh at Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, UtahCattle Egret in the marsh at Farmington Bay WMA – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/3200, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Seeing them perched on the backs of huge Brahma bulls certainly impressed me and watching them in the fields running and feeding on insects between the legs of cattle even more so. At that time in my life I knew that I used to scare the crap out of my mom when I’d run between the legs of the cows we had on the farm when I was a toddler and here these birds were doing practically the same thing. I thought then that Cattle Egrets were fearless birds.

I remember being told that they weren’t native to our country but somehow had made their way to the U.S. from Africa many years before. As a child I didn’t care where they came from, I just remember seeing them practically everywhere there were cows.

Cattle Egret perched on a cow's back with hundreds of flies, Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, UtahCattle Egret perched on a cow’s back with hundreds of flies – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then when I lived in Florida again as an adult and as a bird photographer I’d see Cattle Egrets inland but not very often where I photographed birds the most, on the coast. So I don’t have many photos of them in my archives.

So here I am now and I am somewhat amused to be seeing Cattle Egrets in the marshes surrounding the Great Salt Lake in Utah. A long, long way from Africa.

Adult Cattle Egret riding on a cow's back, Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, UtahAdult Cattle Egret riding on a cow’s back – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/5000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I don’t see Cattle Egrets as often as I would like here in northern Utah so when I can get nice photos of them you can be sure I am going to try. Last month when Farmington Bay WMA opened up the road past Goose Egg Island I was out there checking out the birds in the area and when it came time to head home I spotted a pair of Cattle Egrets on the back of a cow close to the edge of the road and had to stop to take photos of them.

Cattle Egret walking up a cow's neck, Farmington Bay WMA, Davis County, UtahCattle Egret walking up a cow’s neck – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/4000, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

By now this pair of Cattle Egrets should be winging their way south to warmer climes, they do not stay here in northern Utah year round like some of our other wading birds do. Even now when I see Cattle Egrets here in Utah a flood of memories comes back from when I was a child seeing these birds by the hundreds mixed in with the herds of Brahman cows and I just have to smile. I guess you could say that I was a bird nerd and nature lover even way back then.

Life is good.

Mia

6 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte October 15, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Absolutely fascinating series of shots and narrative. The contrasts between the Egret and the back of the Brahma bulls is stunning. Thanks Mia.

  2. April Olson October 12, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    I have very few photos of cattle egrets. They are always way out in someones private fields. I was so bummed when in Australia we saw them often with cattle, horses and kangaroos while driving to our destinations. Sadly I was not with bird photography enthusiast and we did not stop. It was killing me! I think they got tired of me yelling BIRD!

  3. Marty K October 11, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    Gorgeous birds. Out of curiosity (and a love of cows), did you get any portraits of the cattle?

  4. Patty Chadwick October 11, 2018 at 8:04 am

    I love these beautiful white birds…can never see enough of them….

  5. Liz Cormack October 11, 2018 at 6:57 am

    I have never seen a Cattle Egret although once in a while one will get off course and will be seen in the Niagara area. Some day, I hope, I will be lucky enough to see and photograph one.

  6. Kim October 11, 2018 at 6:10 am

    Being a Florida gal, I see this all the time and wonder if the cows are appreciating those egrets. Beautiful images!

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