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Posts tagged ‘egrets’

The Show

The Great egrets of South Florida’s wetlands have been putting on the most wondrous displays in the rookeries. Appropriate timing for Valentine’s Day…. It’s hard not to think that I should be trying a wee bit more, after observing such grand shows of attracting mates.

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands: Check me out.

The feathers of the Great egret are stunning, almost unreal; sadly, these beautiful birds were hunted mercilessly — nearly to the point of extinction, their numbers decimated by 95 percent — towards the end of the 19th century. Their breeding plumage was especially prized, and their treasured feathers were used in hats across the globe.

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Taking a breather in the rookery

With conservation measures enacted, their numbers grew throughout the 20th century. While wetland habitat loss is once again threatening their existence, these birds have a high adaptability to human habitation. Of course, the loss of wetland ecosystems remains another issue altogether.

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

The setting sun has nothing on me….

During the breeding season, the Great egret displays long, elegant plumes on its back, which are used in courtship displays. Like a peacock, these feathery plumes spread out like a fan. (Outside the breeding season, these long feathers disappear.) During this time, the lore (the area between the bill and the eyes) may turn vibrant green. Nature’s colors are brilliant….

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Breeding plumage

The male Great egrets will choose a specific display area, which will later become the nesting site. Nests are usually over water, far off the ground — high in the rookeries, as in our area. He (HE!) builds the nest with long sticks and twigs before pairing up with a female, at which point they both work to complete the nest — although it’s usually the male who finishes it.

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Green lore appears during breeding season

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Shake it. Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands


Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

The Fan

Breeding Great Egret, Florida Wetlands

And the final stage of the display, the reach….

A Moment of Zen with a Cattle Egret

Some weeks are easier than others, and this wasn’t one of the easiest — but as the magnet on my fridge dictates, sometimes ya just have to pull on your big-girl panties and move on with it. During such times, I make it a point to run to Nature — it doesn’t matter if I’m visiting the wetlands, hiking up a frenzy, or simply planting in my little yard — anything to re-focus my attentions to something I thoroughly enjoy.

As the mind races, there’s no better place than a natural environment, one in which you can really ground yourself, breathe more freely, and just observe…. These walks have allowed my best walking meditations. And of course there are always the critters to remind you that life isn’t so serious, after all.

I don’t need the most elegant display to snap out of it, even if it’s temporary. This lone cattle egret was in the company of a group of ibis in our protected wetlands, who were busy grooming for the night ahead. Amid the flurry of their activity, there he sat, content in the setting sun. Thanks, little egret, for my much-needed moment of Zen….

Cattle Egret and Ibis in the Florida Wetlands

Calm amid the hubbub, with the grooming and foraging Ibis

Cattle Egret in the Florida Wetlands

Look how lovely I am, humble and peaceful little Cattle Egret…

Cattle Egret in the Florida Wetlands

….So snap out of it, girlie!

Snow in the Wetlands

All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

A sweet, lone Snowy egret (Egretta thula) stands vigil in our wetlands as dusk approaches.

Snowy egrets are the American counterparts to the very similar Old World Little egrets, which are now beginning to appear in parts of the Caribbean. Along will curved plumes down their backs, their yellow lore (the area between the bill and the eyes) turns red during the breeding season. I spied this guy in the Spring — and his lore and plumage attest to the breeding time. Snowy egrets were once hunted mercilessly for these beautiful plumes, which were in high demand as decorations for women’s hats (as were the plumage of Great egrets and other birds). Their populations were drastically reduced to dangerously low levels, but they’re now protected by law in the US under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

They stalk their prey — including fish, crustaceans, insects and small reptiles — in shallow water, often shuffling their feet to flush it out into view. Snowy egrets will also stand stock still and wait, just like this guy, to ambush their next meal.

A Snowy egret in breeding plumage patiently waits for a meal in the wetlands

Paying It Forward: A Giveaway Contest!

I doubt these juvenile cattle egrets are actually enjoying each other’s presence — they’re most likely fighting for nest dominance — but for our purposes, it’s gifting-time!

Arguing Juvenile Cattle Egrets in the Florida Wetlands

I thought this was a wonderful idea, forwarded by Long Life Cats and Dogs — who in turn was shared it by another blogger. THANKS! So I’m now paying it forward with a giveaway-contest. I LOVE the idea of giving back to such a generous, kind, and talented group of people. Besides, making, giving, and receiving = FUN!

The first three people to comment on this post will receive a gift, a little homemade something, with our Everglades at heart (of course, no critters were harmed in the making of said gift).

The fine print:

  • Within a year, I’ll create something unique to share with the first three people to comment on this post. (I promise it won’t take me an entire year!)
  • In order to receive your gift, you must play along. Spread the love on your own blog, promising to send a little special something to the first three people who comment on your post. Pay it forward!
  • You get 72 hours to re-post, or I’ll move on to the next person. Sorry, apparently there are RULES.

So if you’d like a little something from our Everglades, comment below! And please — if you’re not willing to pay it forward, or if you don’t want something nature-based, created by an Earth-loving-slightly-hippy-hiker, I would hesitate…. ♥

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