11/15/16: Update to this post…upon closer examination, these may indeed be Cattle Egrets rather than Great Egrets. When zooming in to the photos to get better details, I discovered tan plumage on heads and chests that is indicative of a Cattle Egret’s feathers during mating season. Further, orange-red legs point to a Cattle Egret as well, for Great Egrets have black legs. It was fun to make this mistake however, for it has sharpened my skills for future birding!
A few years ago on the Island of St. Lucia, while en route to ride out into the ocean’s waves, this amazing scene was to be found. I was in absolute awe of the abundant and beautiful life to be seen in these trees…
When later researching these birds, I believed them to be Snowy Egrets, when in fact they are Great Egrets. Though both species are white, Snowy Egrets have black beaks and Great Egrets have orange. The activity here was so wonderful to see, these large birds and their nestlings all gathered together near the water’s edge…
Great Egrets are members of the heron family of birds, which like to stalk their food in shallow waters (creatures like fish and frogs). They spear their catch with their beaks. In Illinois where I live, you might catch an occasional glimpse of one stalking fish in the waters of a conservation area during the warmer months, but these birds are truly lovers of tropical places. Since I’ve only ever seen a handful of lone egrets where I’m from, these trees filled with fuzzy headed egret babies just about took my breath away!
Egrets pair up each mating season and produce blue-green eggs, which both mom and dad take turns sitting on. Their nest can be up to 3 feet wide and their little hatchlings are ready to fly out from the nest after 6 weeks old. Let me tell you, those babies are the cutest ever, with feathery, fluffy white heads! But don’t be fooled, these precious creatures grow up to be fierce aquatic hunters!
Here’s wishing you wonderful glimpses of nature today, and everyday…especially some that take your breath away!
A single one is impressive enough, but a whole colony is overwhelming. This past summer I spotted one in the pond at the north end of the RenFaire, near the Queen’s Court
Oh, how special! But, now you’ve gone and reminded me of faire when we still have a whole winter ahead of us to wait for next season.
Egrets remind me of ballerinas. The plumage and their grace makes for wonderful movement. Thanks for sharing/
They are graceful, and so interesting to watch as they stalk about in the shallow waters!
Beautiful pictures. Over here in the Paris suburbs when I ride my bike around the ponds in the woods, every now and then some exotic bird has made a stop over: a gray heron, a cormoron but never seen an egret (small or great) so far. In Cape May in the nature reserve there are lots of them.
These water birds are so unique to watch!