The cattle egret (Bubulcus ibis), a rare transient species in Canada, is the most widespread heron in the world. How it got here from Africa, no one really knows
Rare transient species primarily in southern Canada, from British Columbia to Newfoundland
Globally secure; 100-500 breeding birds in Canada
WHY SO SPECIAL?
The only African avian immigrant to move to Canada
This globe-trotting egret is the most widespread and abundant heron in the world. The story of its immigration to Canada begins with a hurricane in the eastern Atlantic off the west coast of Africa. One day, around 1890, a small flock of these itinerant egrets, or perhaps even just a single egg-laden female, was skyjacked by the winds of a tropical storm and transported 4,600 kilometres across the Atlantic Ocean to Suriname in South America. By 1933, this adaptable wading bird was nesting in the Caribbean. In 1941, it was spotted in the United States, and by 1952, it had strayed into Canada. Since then, roving cattle egrets have been sighted in every province, as well as in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. A few years ago, a starving stray egret was spotted in Churchill, Manitoba. Soon after, a hungry polar bear abruptly ended its travel adventure.