Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret
 One nice thing about traveling to warm places during the winter is getting to see birds that you never get to see back home. In Minnesota the only egret that we usually see is the great egret.I still remember how excited that I got when I saw my first great egret as a kid. Down in Texas they have a few other species of egrets that are only rare visitors to Minnesota. One example is the snowy egret.
Snowy Egret Feeding
Snowy egrets look very similar to great egret except that they are smaller. Sometimes size is tough to gauge, especially from a distance, so there are other a couple other field markings that you can look for to help determine whether a bird is a snowy or great egret. First of all snowy egrets have bright yellow feet where great egrets have black feet. Unfortunately their feet are often not visible in the water. Snowy egrets also have lacy plumes on the back of their head and tail. Great egrets have no plumes on their head and long plumes on their tail. Finally snowy egrets have a black beak with yellow lores, the area around the beak and eyes. Great egrets have a yellow bill with yellow lores.
Snowy Egret in Flight
Most species of egrets were hunted almost to extinction in the late 1800's and early 1900's. feathers were in fashion at the time and hunters killed millions of birds in order to adorn hats and other articles of clothing with lacy feathers. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 put a stop to the legal feather trade by protecting feathers, body parts, nests, eggs and the birds themselves for all native species of birds other than game birds like ducks and such. The illegal feather trade continued but eventually feathers went out of fashion. Even though most of the hunted species made a comeback and are not endangered today they are still protected.

I apologize for my neglect of the blog over the past couple months. Between work, volunteering, building two websites and several other projects my time has been limited. Summer usually is a busy time also, but I will try and post more often again