This summer’s first sighting of a rare great egret in the Columbia Wetlands has evoked great excitement for some.
Local biologist and ornithologist Cam Gillies confirmed the elusive find from a photograph taken by a participant while on a tour of the wetlands with Blazin Trailz Adventurz (which operates out of Fairmont Hot Springs) on Sunday, July 19th.
Gillies added the great egret is a bird that is rarely found in the Columbia Valley.
“In the bird checklist, which was published in 1997, there are three records (of this species) for the Columbia Valley. There have only been a few since then,” explained Gillies, noting the great egret species is typically found in the southern United States of America. “They seem to have this habit of showing up at this time of year.”
The great egret — also known as the common or large egret, as well as the great white heron — inhabits tropical regions of the world and southern Europe.
“It’s safe to say there are maybe only half a dozen, fewer than 10, records for the Columbia Valley,” said Gillies, noting the great egret species adventures out of its home after breeding. “It’s a more tropical bird than what we’re used to seeing… the great thing about great egrets is that they’re really obvious to spot because they are really big and they are white, so it’s a great bird to look out for in the wetlands. It’s an exciting sighting.”