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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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.