We’re Living the Tweet Life: April

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Snowy egret (Egretta thula)

By Jan Baumgartner

A frequent sight both on and off Siesta Key, the snowy egret captivates visitors and residents alike with its elegant appearance and graceful movements.
This crow-sized heron is easily identified by its brilliant yellow feet and lores — the surface on each side of a bird’s head between the eye and the beak or bill. The snowy’s stunning white plumage is set in dramatic contrast with jet-black legs and bill. Wispy plumes called aigrettes cascade down the nape of the neck like a shaggy haircut.

During breeding season, snowy egrets grow very long, airy plumes that once fueled the fashion industry, nearly bringing the species to extinction by the early 1900s. Thanks to more than 100 years of conservation efforts combined with protective legislation, we are able to enjoy the aerial antics and fleet-footed foraging of the beloved snowy.
One of its trademark hunting maneuvers — the “dip-fish “— allows the bird to hover with its feet just above the water’s surface until it ambushes its submerged prey, seizing it in one swift motion.
Look for the sociable snowy egret along the shoreline, especially in the company of other wading birds that congregate in mudflats and tidal wetlands.

Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards are available at Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures, 6635 Midnight Pass Rd., in Crescent Plaza.

Jan Baumgartner
Author: Jan Baumgartner

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