Friday, April 23, 2010

The Snowy Egret

When I go to Florida and spend time photographing birds, one of the easiest birds to get close to and photograph are Snowy Egrets. Since they are now protected, their numbers have rebounded and they are very plentiful in the south Florida areas that I visit. These birds are wild, but they show little fear of humans and allow you to get quite close. When they are feeding, they are fun to watch and the actions can get pretty wild when a large flock of them are feeding in a small area. The Snowy above caught a shrimp and came up and landed right next to me. He was so close I could not even focus on him so I had to walk away to get enough distance between us for my camera to focus.

The Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is a small white heron. It is the American counterpart to the very similar Old World Little Egret, which has established a foothold in the Bahamas.When full grown, the Snowy has a height of about two feet and has a wingspan of about three feet. It has white feathers, a yellow patch of skin around its eyes, a black bill and black legs with bright yellow feet. In breeding season, it has lacy plumes on its head, neck and back. Males and females look alike.

The snowy egret breeds on the Atlantic Coast, the Pacific Coast and the Gulf Coast. It is also found in some inland areas. It winters from California south to South America on the west coast and from Virginia south to the West Indies on the east coast.

The birds eat fish, crustaceans, and insects. They stalk prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet, flushing prey into view, as well "dip-fishing" by flying with their feet just over the water. Snowy Egrets may also stand still and wait to ambush prey, or hunt for insects stirred up by domestic animals in open fields.

At one time, the beautiful plumes of the Snowy Egret were in great demand by market hunters as decorations for women's hats. This reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels.Now protected in the USA by law, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, this bird's population has rebounded.

Have A Great Weekend!

No comments:

Post a Comment