Adult Snowy Egret in flight over Farmington Bay – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/5000, ISO 800, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light
My friend and fellow photographer David Eccles mentioned on Facebook that he has seen some Snowy Egrets back in northern Utah and that has me excited for opportunities to photograph these snow white wading birds while they are here for their breeding season.
When I lived in Florida I saw Snowy Egrets year round and that kind of spoiled me but here in Utah they leave for the winter and come back to the marshes and wetlands surrounding the Great Salt Lake for their breeding season. I see them most often at Farmington Bay WMA and at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.
The Snowy Egret above was photographed in September of 2011 at Farmington Bay WMA not long before the egrets headed south for the winter. The egret had muddy legs and feet from foraging where the water level had been dropped by the staff at the WMA. The yellow feet of this species can’t be seen through that mud!
We can thank the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for saving these birds from extinction, their numbers were severely decimated in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s because their plumes were highly sought after during that time period to be used as decorations on ladies hats. Their plumes sold for nearly twice the amount that gold sold for. The MBTA protected these egrets and other migratory birds from becoming extinct by over hunting so they avoided the fate of the Passenger Pigeons. I can’t imagine North America without these wading birds.
Life is good.
A few Snowy Egret facts:
- Snowy Egrets are medium sized wading birds with white plumage, long thin necks, legs and bills and yellow lores and feet. During the breeding season their lores change color to hues between salmon and orange-red.
- Snowy Egrets are found primarily along the coast but they can also be found in inland wetland habitat. Their habitat includes beaches, fresh and saltwater marshes, mudflats, wet agricultural fields, the banks of rivers and lake shorelines.
- Snowy Egrets eat small crustaceans, fish, insects, small reptiles and amphibians.
- They are colonial nesters. Snowy Egrets lay 2 to 6 eggs which take about 18 days to hatch. Both sexes incubate.
- Snowy Egrets have been known to mate with other herons including Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons and Cattle Egrets and produced hybrid offspring.
- Snowy Egrets are also known as “Golden Slippers” because of their yellow feet.
- A group of egrets can be called a “heronry”, “skewer” and “wedge” of egrets.
- Snowy Egrets can live up to 22 years.