A visual journal exploring the birds of Inwood and Northern Manhattan

by Teri Tynes – writer, photographer, and illustrator

The Return of the Great Egret

One of the most familiar figures in the waters of Inwood Hill Park, the Great Egret has returned for its spring and summery residency. The Great Egret fishes in salt and fresh water, and the confluence of the rivers here provides a mixture of both sources of water. The Salt Marsh helps filter pollutants.

As a tidal estuary, the Hudson River rises and falls throughout the day, spilling into the Spuyten Duyvil Estuary. The Great Egret may be seen fishing when the water levels are right. Look for a time between high tide and low tide to see the egret in the water. At high tide, the egret may perch on a rock, on a pier, or on a comfortable spot near land. Tide charts for Spuyten Duyvil Creek can be found online.

At first, there were two of them.

On Friday, March 24, in late morning, I spotted two Great Egrets in flight around the waters. They made a full circle of Spuyten Duyvil Creek, then over to Muscota Marsh next to Columbia University’s athletic facilities, and then back again to perch on fallen tree branches on the south shore of the creek. They looked like they were house hunting. Or more realistically, they were in competition over which one would stay.

And then there was one.

Later that afternoon, when the tide was low, I returned to find one lone Great Egret exploring the edges of the Salt Marsh and wading in the ribbons of the creek. Over the past nine years, I have observed just one egret here. Maybe this is the same one. (The average lifespan for a Great Egret is 15 years.)

Two Days Later – Sunday morning, March 26, 2023


I have so long associated the Great Egret with the neighborhood that I chose the egret as the logo for this website. Its return this week affirms a rejuvenated feeling of hopes and spring renewal.

From the sketchbook

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