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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Cattle Egrets' long, arduous trip to north Texas

Cattle Egret

The familiar, white Cattle Egret originally comes from the "old world", primarily what's known as west Africa. Back in the 19th century, there was a lot of ship traffic across the Atlantic, and there have always been strong winds. Somehow, some Cattle Egrets reached northeastern South America in the late 1800s - present day northern Brazil. (exactly HOW they crossed the ocean will always be a mystery)

They like to hang around grazing animals, and Brazil had plenty. Very gradually, the Egrets expanded their range northward, always associating with large grazing animals.

The first documented Cattle Egret in North America (north of the Panama-Columbia border) was in 1952. By 1959 they had reached the southern part of Texas. About five years later they were here in north Texas.
             Lots of people are putting out nest-building material for birds. Dog fur (actually, any kind of fur) is a favorite. Wild birds like strands of yarn and thread too. However, make certain that strands are no longer than 3 inches (longer ones can tangle up their wings or feet). Dryer lint looks like it would be good, but NO.  It often contains harmful additives from detergent, fabric softener or bleach.      

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