Too Many Cattle Egrets?

Too many Cattle Egrets

Good Morning, God!

I remember the first time I saw cattle egrets. It was back in the 1980s and I saw two or three of them in the watercress patch below the Pearlridge Shopping Center. I thought they were beautiful.

I still think they are beautiful, God. But, they are multiplying! And I am beginning to suspect there are too many egrets. I can usually count 20 to 30 in the park across the way. I took this photo as I was poised to come out of our driveway — because there were nine egrets together on the fence across the street. Usually they are spread out — each in his or her own territory.

I was curious if anyone else thought there might be too many egrets and found an article about them in the current issue of the Hawaii Audubon Society journal, ‘Elepaio. These birds didn’t come to the United States until 1941 (to Florida) and now they are in almost every state and in every continent except Antarctica.

Hawaii brought in cattle egrets on purpose — to reduce the number of flies, which were damaging cattle hides. In 1959 the Hawaii Board of Agriculture & Forestry began the introductions, in cooperation with ranchers, the Honolulu Zoo and the bird club Hui Manu. They brought in 150 birds — followed by 32 more. Hmmm. Now how many are there?

I guess, God, I wouldn’t mind their number if I weren’t concerned about our golden plovers. Egrets don’t just eat insects. They also eat small birds and the eggs of larger birds. Cattle egrets are not good neighbors, God. I guess they, like most of us, don’t think about that.

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Story teller,

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Posted in complexity, interspecies contact, web of life

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