Great White Egrets
When its courting time in Birdland the male gets all dressed up to capture his lady love. Some of the most striking displays are the Great White Egrets.
Great Egrets grow long white plumes and their lores, which are normally a dusky yellow, turn bright green as the hormones begin racing through their bodies. (Lores are the skin of region between the eye and the beak.) Great Egrets pose in various stretches and postures and look quit the dandy, as my mother used to say. No, she didn’t say that about birds, just about men who dressed up in fancy duds to impress the ladies in her day.
No doubt the female Great Egrets enjoy the show though it does seem a bit pretentious to us humans. (I suppose we seem just as strange to them.) These slow, languorous posturings go on for many days, presumably until all are mated.
Great Egrets, nearly driven out of existence by hunters who harvested the beautiful plumes for milliners who fashioned them into ladies headgear, are no longer endangered and are now common through most of the United States. Great Egrets nest in mixed colonies along with Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Black-crowned Night Herons. The colonies are quite colorful when it’s mating season .
Snowy Egrets, always colorful with their yellow feet and black legs, frizz up their feathers and their lores turn fire-engine red when it’s courting time. Here is a non-breeding Snowy, looking like he is about to do a belly flop. Actually the camera caught him taking off, half-way through the first flap. Notice his fancy yellow boots.
And graceful, too, as he flies to his mate. Snowies are raucous little birds and scrappy, though not so much when nesting.
Cattle Egrets are normally a bit drab, with pale lores, pale legs and pale eyes. Only a bit of cinnamon on their heads and bellies.
But the Cattle Egret’s legs turn pink, the beak turns bright red-orange and the lores are colored with a shade of violet.
And here we have a happy pair of Cattle Egrets in all their finery.
For mostly white birds, Egrets really color it up at mating time!
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