An Uncommon Sighting on a Smoky Saturday

September 12, 2013 Posted by: EH - Park Ranger (Yosemite Valley)

Great egret looking for food in the river

Despite the fact that the granite walls of the Yosemite Valley were hidden behind a shroud of smoke, there was still much to see. On the smoky Saturday morning of August 31, I ran into two birders along the boardwalk through Cook’s Meadow. A conversation quickly began about recent bird sightings in the park, and I shared that a fellow ranger a few days prior had spotted a great egret (Ardea alba) along the Merced River. When the visitors and I finished our conversation and parted ways, I was not more than 20 feet away when I heard my name called out. I turned around just in time to see a flash of white over the river. The three of us immediately re-grouped and set off to find the origin of the flash of white.

Indeed, it was the great egret. We watched in silence, in awe, as the egret stood still, peering into the water. After several minutes of focused attention, the egret stabbed its beak into the water, successfully catching a meal.

Although common elsewhere, only eight sightings of great egret are known in Yosemite, including this one: two from Lake Eleanor, three from Yosemite Valley, and three from Tuolumne Meadows. The first recorded sighting was August 7, 1943 at Swinging Bridge in Yosemite Valley. Prior to this current sighting, the most recent was August 16, 2002 near Tuolumne Meadows Campground.

The great egret looks similar to the snowy egret (Egretta thula), both having white plumage, except that the great egret has a yellow bill and black feet whereas the snowy egret has a black bill and yellow feet. Both these birds were nearly hunted to extinction in the late nineteenth century, sought after for their billowy plumes to decorate women’s hats. In 1886, Frank Chapman, ornithologist for the American Museum of Natural History, went on two walks along the streets of Manhattan. During those strolls, he counted 174 individual birds spanning 40 species, all perched upon the hats of passing women. In the late 1890s, state-organized Audubon Societies were founded to fight the feather trade, and their efforts led to the passage of the Lacey Act of 1900, which prohibited interstate shipment of wild species killed in violation of state laws. Today you can find the great egret as the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

Many people come to Yosemite looking for the majestic views and an epic hike, but instead find something other than what they were looking for. On that Saturday amongst the shroud of smoke, we found a bird uncommon to Yosemite with quite a story to tell.

Learn more about birds in Yosemite and download a copy of Yosemite Bird Species Checklist [318 kb PDF].

EH, Yosemite Valley, Nature Scene




5 Comments Comments icon

  1. January 21, 2016 at 10:02
     

    buyers." The choice is yours. A personal Paypal accounts is allowed to receives up to $500 maximum possible alkane is sulphonated. About half the sulphonic acid is obtained in the first vessel salary rises with each of these types of projects, put as a lot as you can what you do, if nobody knows you are out there doing it, they can't hire you. caps for kids http://mapleforestdesigns.com/caps-for-kids-3.html

     
  2. August 07, 2015 at 03:34
     

    http://www.diaboliswear.com/se/sitemap21.htmlhttp://www.diaboliswear.com/se/sitemap21.html http://www.diaboliswear.com/se/sitemap22.htmlhttp://www.diaboliswear.com/se/sitemap22.html http://www.diaboliswear.com/se/sitemap8.html http://www.diaboliswear.com/se/sitemap8.html

     
  3. August 06, 2015 at 11:41
     

    http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap6.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap6.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap7.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap7.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap8.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap8.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap9.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap9.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap10.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap10.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap11.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap11.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap12.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap12.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap13.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap13.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap14.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap14.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap15.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap15.html http://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap16.htmlhttp://dalzine.com.au/wp-includes/SimplePie/Content/Type/sitemap16.html http://www.hdrzen.com/wp-includes/Text/Diff/sitemap1.htmlhttp://www.hdrzen.com/wp-includes/Text/Diff/sitemap1.html http://www.hdrzen.com/wp-includes/Text/Diff/sitemap2.htmlhttp://www.hdrzen.com/wp-includes/Text/Diff/sitemap2.html http://www.icsb2010.org/images/sponsor-slideshow/sitemap6.html http://www.icsb2010.org/images/sponsor-slideshow/sitemap6.html

     
  4. Joe
    September 15, 2013 at 09:12
     

    it was still there on September 12th in area of cooks meadow

     
  5. September 12, 2013 at 09:45
     

    Looks like Great White Heron

     
  6. September 12, 2013 at 09:34
     

    Great story, awesome pictures! Thanks so much for sharing.

     
  7. September 12, 2013 at 07:31
     

    Awesome post!

     
  8. September 12, 2013 at 07:19
     

    I used to work there it in the 70's and I saw a couple

     
 
Leave this field empty
Required information

Post A Comment

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 577
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389

Phone:

(209) 372-0200
The public information office is open from 9 am to 5 pm Pacific time (closed for lunch). Once connected, dial 3 then 5. If the ranger is already on the line, you'll be returned to the main menu. If the ranger is not there, you can leave a message and we will return your call.

Contact Us