Bittern, Herons and Egrets at Deer Flat NWR
These species are generally categorized as large “Wading Birds.” They have long legs, long necks and long stout bills for stalking and catching food in shallow water. Graceful crests and plumes adorn the heads of some species in breeding season. At Deer Flat NWR the Great Blue Heron is the most common of these species, and even abundant during the summer months.
The Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Black-crowned Night Heron are also quite common during specific seasons. However, all these species are generally absent during the wintertime when snow and ice obscure their prey.
Herons and egrets are known to be colonial nesters—nesting in rookeries. At Lake Lowell these birds build their nests in tall cottonwood trees on the south side of the lake. Several islands in the Snake River sector of the Refuge also harbor nesting colonies of these large birds. They feed abundantly on fish from Lake Lowell and the Snake River. They also forage in wetlands and wet pastures for amphibians, large insects and occasional small rodents. Of lesser abundance, and even rarely, one might catch a glimpse of a solitary American Bittern in a clump of cattails or a flock of wandering Cattle Egrets (non-natives) feeding in an adjacent field.