Unusual white birds puzzle Southern Md. drivers

Darci Marchese, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – The hot, dry summer that has ravaged the D.C. area has altered the behavior of a bird species, leaving local drivers scratching their heads.

The mysterious white birds seen along routes 228 and 229 in Maryland are great egrets, says John Bjerke, a bird specialist at the Audubon Naturalist Society. These are a large bird in the heron family, closely resembling the blue heron.

There are dozens of the large birds taking up residence in a marsh along the Charles County route. Many drivers have been stopping to take photographs of the unusual sight.

It isn’t unusual for great egrets to be in Southern Maryland, Bjerke says, but they may be shifting to new locations because of the drought.

The drought is drying up some wetland areas where the birds usually nest and that’s forcing them to find a new location, he says. They will probably stay until they no longer can get what they need in that location.

Large numbers of egrets are typically found along the Eastern Shore, says Bjerke. The sight in Charles County is something you’d usually see in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware.

Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)