I have no regrets about the upcoming move to the mountains of North Carolina. But I do have a lot of Egrets to share today. Sure, I will miss the marsh birds but look forward to the new adventure. Spring is here, and the birds are doing what birds do this time of year. Making more birds. The St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoo attracts thousands of visitors. Unfortunately, I chose a day when most all of them came to visit and it seemed you could hardly move on the boardwalk to take photos. But I did manage to capture a few to share.
When you have hundreds of alligators below you there is no predator that has much of a chance of a ground approach, so the trees there are a natural rookery for the local marsh birds. They may have bird brains, but they know a good place to lay an egg when they see one. Dozens of Great Egrets were either on eggs or feeding recently hatched egret nestlings. The Tricolored Herons were in bright breeding plumage as were a few Roseate Spoonbills. I got a lot of captures of the Great Egret mating displays. Their wispy white breeding plumage feathers are called aigrettes (French for Egret) and they get bright green around the eyes during mating season. The males often display these fine feathers in an arching motion to attract a mate. The Great Egrets lay from 1 to six eggs. The nestlings are fierce competitors and will attack and push out the weaker siblings to the hungry alligators below. I also observed one of the parents actually killing one of the nestlings and tossing it out of the nest. Too many mouths to feed. Only the strong survive. Sure am glad we humans are not raised that way. Unfortunately, that seems to be changing though.
Still I have no regrets about the day spent and sharing the beauty of these elegantly feathered Egrets and nestlings with you. Blessings.