Doin’ The Wild Thing – White Egret Courting Displays
The Great White Egrets are most beautiful during the breeding season. At this time they display very bright green skin or lore around the eyes and the gauzy ‘ bridal’ train of ornamental back feathers which define their species. Egrets are in the same family as herons but the French word for tufts or tufted feathers is Aigrette pronounced ‘egret.’ The presence of aigrettes is one feature which separates the great herons and the egrets. As the aigrettes disappear shortly after the appearance of the young, the birds were shot sitting on their nests in order to secure the lovely feathers to decorate ladies hats in the early 1900′s. The egrets were nearly hunted to exctinction and this practice was stopped. Like the Great Herons, the White egret pairs develop a strong attachment for each other and the extent to which they will go to procure food for their young is extraordinary. Pictured below is a male white egret performing ritual mating behaviour. This primarily consists of preening, stretching the neck up high, snapping quickly back down and preening again. I find focusing on the birds during such behavior interesting as if you aren’t quite quick enough they snap back down in a blink! It is really quite charming and I suppose the fairer object of this dance must see it that way when they choose their mate. I’ve tried to show a small sampling of this activity from my recent trip to the rookery.
These pictures were taken on the same visit last week when I learned of the Great Blue Heron nest having lost its chicks. Cycles of survival and renewal are still on vibrant display at the rookery. Many species are nesting now including the Great Blue Herons, Great White Egrets, Anhingas, Cormorants, Wood Storks and others. There is always something to see!! White Egrets are always a favourite for their pure beauty and everyone seems to want to watch Florida’s big white birds!
White Egret Mating Dance – Stretching its neck high and fanning out its gauzy aigrettes.
White Egret Mating Display in a timeless and lush setting.
Mating Dance of the White Egret exhibits the high arching neck stretch to the sky followed by a quick snap down as you see here. The bird will then preen a bit or arch back up pointing its bill to the sky. It is beautiful to watch!
The delicate contrast of the white bird and its circular fan of plumage with the shadows and highlights of the foliage just called for a black and white treatment! Even though the greens in the late day sun are brilliant! I just love this natural setting!
Ah, here we have an intimate moment with a mating pair doin’ the wild thing!! I thought a black and white treatment lent a little romance to the scene! I look forward to seeing little chicks in the near future!!
◊“risk is full: every living thing in
siege: the demand is life, to keep life:
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and
the shallows, darts to shore…” ◊
Archie Randolph Ammons