We’re Living the Tweet Life: March

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Reddish egret (Egretta rufescens)

By Jan Baumgartner

Two color patterns, or morphs, are found in reddish egrets—the common dark morph with its steel-gray and rust colored plumage, and the rare all-white morph. The birds don’t notice plumage color during breeding season as chicks of both color morphs may be found within a single nest.

Along the Gulf coast of central and south Florida, the reddish egret is a year-round resident and is typically found foraging in shallow salt flats or inlets during low tide. With a flair for the dramatic, it’s “dinner and a show” when the reddish egret appears. Racing around a tidal pool on foot, turning tight circles punctuated by animated hops and wing-flaps, the egret’s erratic movements certainly keep the fish — and the photographers — guessing. Wings are alternately tucked then extended to cast shadows on the water, giving the bird a better view of the main course. Favoring small minnow-like fish, it is common for this agile performance artist to consume a dozen or two in a single meal.
The reddish egret is easily identified by size, as it is larger than a snowy egret but smaller than a great egret.

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

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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