Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Snowy Egrets

I have to admit that I love all four species of Egrets that we get in our area: Great, Snowy, Cattle and Reddish. However, the one I most enjoy watching is the Snowy Egret.

While not as large as Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets seem to be fairly substantial birds - until they turn to face you and you see how thin their bodies and necks really are.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of a Snowy Egrets is its bright yellow feet. The color is utilitarian rather than decorative, and it is an essential element in the bird's hunting process: Snowy Egrets hunt by walking through water, where their yellow feet scare up fish and other prey.

 Many years ago, Dee and I watched a Snowy Egret hunting in this way in Bolinas Lagoon, California. We were amazed to see that it was accompanied by three small sharks, which kept swimming around the bird and even between its legs. Presumably the sharks realized that they could grab small fish and other creatures that would be stirred up by the bird's feet.

Here are some photos I recently took of a Snowy Egret in hunting mode at Baytown.

Unfortunately, this bird didn't manage to catch anything, at least during the time when I was watching it.

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