Egrets for the most part are easy to spot their white feathers stand out against most backgrounds, (The Reddish Egret being the exception) The largest of the Egrets is the Great Egret which stands 40 inches tall with a wingspan up to 67 inches. In 1953, the great egret in flight was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which was formed in part to prevent the killing of birds for their feathers.
The Reddish Egret reaches 32 inches in length, with a 49 inch wingspan. It stalks its prey visually in shallow water far more actively than other herons and egrets, frequently running energetically and using the shadow of its wings to reduce glare on the water once it is in position to spear a fish; the result is a fascinating dance. Due to its bold, rapacious yet graceful feeding behavior, author Pete Dunne nicknamed the reddish egret “the Tyrannosaurus rex of the Flats”. Even now that makes me smile.
The smallest of the egrets is the Cattle Egret has a short, thick-neck and spends most of its time in fields rather than streams. It forages at the feet of grazing cattle, head bobbing with each step, or rides on their backs to pick at ticks. This stocky white heron has yellow plumes on its head and neck during breeding season.
The Snowy Egret is the fanciest of the egrets. At one time, the plumes of the snowy egret were in great demand as decorations for women’s hats. They were hunted for these plumes and this reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels. Now protected in the United States by law, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, this bird’s population has rebounded. It uses it’s yellow feet as lures for fish.