This was the best I could do with my point-and-shoot zoom from the house down to the far pasture. I knew I couldn’t get any closer without disturbing this scene. We have here a tall, white bird, a reposing ram, and a dead-looking guardian dog.
Dead dog aside (this never alarms me anymore, they always look stone-dead lying in the middle of the pasture; and someday one of them will be and it’ll take me a while to notice) what is this bird? I’ve not seen anything like it around here before. He looked exactly like a Great Blue Heron (those are common here) only pure white, with a yellow bill and black legs. A search of the Innerwebs tells us that Blue Herons do come in white- but only in Florida. I reckon this is a Great White Egret. Cornell’s site says: Slightly smaller and more svelte than a Great Blue Heron, these are still large birds with impressive wingspans. Yes, that’s exactly how I’d describe him, he was a big fella in flight.
Wiki says about them: In North America, large numbers of Great Egrets were killed around the end of the 19th century so that their plumes could be used to decorate hats. Well, splendid, I can image they do make a fine hat.
He has apparently failed to consult the range map for his species:
(Though the dynamic bird sighting map does show a 0-2% sighting in NW WA, and some sources cite them ranging as far as Southern Canada. So he’s probably not exactly lost, just adventurous.)
That’s Bronte, not-dead-just-sleeping, in the background. A few minutes later, Moses barking at a car woke her up. She immediately noticed this out-of-place white fella in the pasture. Normally she ignores Herons, they stand around in the pastures all the time. She got right up and circled around this stranger, giving him a wide berth. She didn’t bark, but she had her head low, and was really suspicious of his motives. It was sort of a strange sight: white like a sheep, tall as a sheep, standing around like a sheep, near all the sheep, but definitely not a sheep… He stood his ground for a minute, then flew off a bit. B pursued him cautiously, still giving him plenty of buffer, and this convinced him to head to the neighboring corn field.