Posts Tagged ‘great egrets’

Where the path closed
down and over,
through the scumbled leaves,
fallen branches,
through the knotted catbrier,
I kept going. Finally
I could not
save my arms
from thorns; soon
the mosquitoes

This great egret regally watched all the comings and goings from its perch aboard a boat at a Key West, Florida, dock. -- Photo by Pat Bean

smelled me, hot
and wounded, and came
wheeling and whining.
And that’s how I came
to the edge of the pond:
black and empty
except for a spindle
of bleached reeds
at the far shore
which, as I looked,
wrinkled suddenly
into three egrets – – –
a shower
of white fire!
Even half-asleep they had
such faith in the world
that had made them – – –
tilting through the water,
unruffled, sure,
by the laws
of their faith not logic,
they opened their wings
softly and stepped
over every dark thing.

        — Mary Oliver
Snoweys, Greats, and Cattle

Snowy egret on left, great egret on right, northern shoveler in the water in Texas' Rio Grande Valley. -- Photo by Pat Bean

When I first became one of those crazy birders, it was easy to identify a snowy egret, which for a long time was the only egret that I saw.  They were these tall, white, graceful birds with a long, slender black bill, and black legs with golden-yellow feet, which I liked to think of as their slippers.  I saw these delightful shorebirds just about anywhere there was water when I lived in Northern Utah.

The next egret I saw was a shorter, chunkier one that looked like parts of its body had been dipped in liquid wheat. occasionally I would see one with a wheat-colored crest, which I learned was its breeding cap. These were cattle egret, and wandering around a herd of the four-legged critters were where you almost always found them.
It took me a long while before I saw a great egret in Northern Utah, although when I traveled east of the Rockies, this was suddenly the most common egret I started seeing. It’s a tall, lanky bird with a long, slender yellow bill and black legs and feet.
Egrets, well the snowy and the great since the cattle egret didn’t migrate to America until the 1950s, were the inspiration for the creation of the Audubon Society. The main purpose of the conservation organization, of which I’m a proud member, when it was first formed was to protect the egrets from extinction. They were being killed by the thousands simply to provide fanciful plumes for women’s hats.
Tsk! Tsk! I’d like to think we vain females know better these days. Most of us do, I believe.  
Bean’s Pat: Serenity Spell http://tinyurl.com/6wgdtdd Since it’s a bird day, read all about red-winged blackbirds.

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“To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird’s nest or a wildflower in spring – these are some of the rewards of the simple life.”  ~John Burroughs

Birding Day

I abandoned my blog this morning, and spent the day out birding with my son Lewis. I just barely got back, and words always fail me this time of day. So I’ll simply share one of the photos I took today. Hopefully you’ll think it worth my usual 350 words.


Great egrets and roseate spoonbils at Surfside -- Photo by Pat Bean

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