Readers’ wildlife photos

December 4, 2022 • 8:15 am

Don’t forget to send in your photos!

It’s Sunday, and that means a spate of themed bird photos from John Avise. It’s also a special day, for it’s the 150th straight weekly contribution from John. I can’t believe it’s been three years! Anyway, plaudits to Dr. Avise for his contribution and swell photos: he tells me he has plenty more. John’s narrative and captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Egret Plumes

During the breeding season, egrets (in the family Ardeidae) grow special plume feathers that cascade down from the back, breast, head, and neck.  In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hunters killed egrets by the thousands to supply these plume feathers for fashionable women’s hats. So serious was this depredation that some Egret species were driven to the brink of extinction.

But, thankfully, both protective legislation (notably the 1918 migratory Bird Act Treaty) and changing fashions rescued these special birds just before it was too late.  Today, the happy result is that these spectacular creatures remain quite common for us to marvel at.  This week’s post shows the full breeding plumages of two egret species that had been especially sought-after by the old millinery industry: the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) and the Great Egret (Ardea alba).  I took all of these photographs here in Southern California.

Snowy Egret, side view:

Snowy egret, resting:

Snowy egret, side portrait:

Snowy egret and its shadow:

Snowy egret, dorsal view:

Snowy egret, fishing:

Snowy egret, landing:

Great egret, resting:

Great egret, side view:

Great egret, side view:

Great egret on green backdrop:

Great egret, landing:

10 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Snowy Egrets have always been a favorite of mine. The bright yellow feet in contrast with the rest of their body looks like they stepped in paint.

  2. Like yesterday’s contributor, Athayde, I find your addition to this site a most welcome one indeed.
    Egrets are such beautiful, elegant, stately birds, especially when walking but I particularly enjoyed the two landing photos. I do wonder what’s the deal with black vs yellow feet and black vs yellow beaks. Some sort of honest signal indicating health (brighter yellow=more healthy?) or an indicator of age, but then I don’t know if the colors change as they become mature. They are not birds I encounter frequently and are always seen at great distances so I don’t often think about them and thus really know nothing about them.

  3. I don’t know about the bills, but I have a very speculative hypothesis for the Snowy’s yellow feet: when Snowy Egrets are hunting for fish, they typically shuffle their feet through the sediment. Perhaps the bright yellow startles up fish that the Snowy then grabs to eat.

  4. Thanks, John, for all your RWP contributions. I always look forward to your Sunday installments as they never disappoint. This week’s Egrets was no difference: beautiful photos of a stately species.

  5. A magnificent bird— so hard to decide which is my favorite photo. Love the action in Great egret, landing, clearly an egret on a mission. And the muted colors of Great egret, side view and special mention of Great egret on green backdrop with the feet blending into the twig, simply exquisite.

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