Last week, a York middle school student was fascinated by my spotting scope that was sitting on a tripod. He walks through past Kiwanis Lake on his way to and from school, he said, and never noticed anything out of the ordinary.
But if he'd look, the feathered creatures here are extraordinary. Kiwanis Lake is only one of two sites in Pennsylvania where great egrets are nesting. And the only site in the state where great egrets, black crowned night herons and yellow crowned night herons birds are nesting together.
That the young man never saw the birds is surprising. Great egrets are pure, solid white, more than three feet tall, with wingspans of nearly five feet. Seems they'd be hard to miss against the dark evergreens. Add to that the constant squawking of the 80 nests of neighbor black-crowned night herons. Add a few yellow-crowned night herons and it's an impressive crowd of beautiful, majestic birds.
About 90 heron nests and a half dozen egret nests are scattered about, according to Bird Refuge of York County. The refuge plays a big part in keeping these orphaned or injured birds healthy, and its operating budget is in need of financial transfusions. To donate to the Bird Rescue of York, click here.
The York Audubon Society has a lot of information about Kiwanis Lake.
Some facts from the Bird Refuge web site--
In 1992, black-crowned night heron was discovered nesting at Kiwanis Lake in York City.
- Yellow-crowned night heron pair nested at Kiwanis Lake.
- In 2000, a great egret, and yellow-crowned night heron nest was discovered among the black-crowned night heron colony at Kiwanis Lake.
- Great egret pair first nested May 26, 2000 but by June 12 nest was damaged and abandoned. Yellow-crowned night heron pair also nested. The egret was observed to have snatched a black-crowned night heron from the nest for dinner.
- During the breeding season of 2004, there were well over 40 black-crowned night heron nests surveyed (numbers were believed to be at least double the above amount however were not documented), three great egret nests, and 1 yellow-crowned night heron nest.
- Kiwanis Lake is currently the only known area in Pennsylvania where all three of these species nest together.
- Kiwanis Lake is currently only one of the two areas in Pennsylvania where the great egret is known to nest.