Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bird a Day: Great Egret

The most widespread egret in the world, the Great Egret was first named the American Egret, but this was hardly appropriate since the bird is found worldwide.  In the late 19th century, these birds and other herons and egrets were hunted extensively for their feathers.  Most herons and egrets have long plumes on their heads that they use in courtship, but they not only attracted other birds, but humans as well.  It was the style to have one of these long plumes adorned on hats and the population of these birds were reduced dramatically.  Public opinion started to turn against plume hunting and Teddy Roosevelt established the first Federal Bird Reservation at Pelican Island specifically to protect birds from plume hunters.  He went on to create 50 more bird reserves during his presidency.  This protection allowed the Great Egret population to recover and they are now a very common bird in the south and here in Kentucky.

Great Egret

Great Egret

Great Egrets are easy birds to identify.  They are the only large all white heron in our area.  They have a long neck and large bright orange bill that they use to stab fish.  They have black legs and feet which set them apart from the smaller Snowy Egret which have yellow feet.  They are common around the edges of ponds, streams, and other wetlands.


Kelly said... are really moving along with your bird-a-day posts for the month! You've put a lot of work into it.

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