It was a rare enough sighting that several motorists traveling on Highway 49 just east of the Kylemore grid called the News to report what turns out to be a great egret.
More often found south of the Canadian border in a habitat that ranges from the northern United States through to much of South America and east to parts of continental Europe and the southern two-thirds of Africa, the great egret is infrequently seen in east-central Saskatchewan.
“It is very rare to see one,” agreed Diane Sloan, a birder from Kelvington, who missed the opportunity to see our fine-feathered visitor. “I know that one has been seen as far north as Edmonton, but again I was not in the city when that one was spotted.”
The symbol of the National Audubon Society, an organization created to protect birds hunted for their feathers, the great egret was hunted almost to extinction in the late 19th century for its white feathers. Similar in silhouette to the great blue heron, the great egret is distinguished by its yellow beak and black legs that stretch out behind it in flight. Also distinguishing is the way it tucks its neck in while flying.
Resting in the south ditch of Hwy. 49 for almost a week, the egret did not seem to be scared off by passing traffic but soared in graceful flight whenever this reporter slowed to try for a picture. Locals who saw the bird were the envy of many Saskatchewan birders who have yet to tick the great egret off their “to see” list.
By Susan Lowndes