Snowy Egret

Not just a cuter Great Egret.

Though it is, kinda. They are related.

I was looking for some interesting facts about the Snowy Egret. I thought I had read somewhere that they were referred to as “golden slippers,” due to their yellow feet, which become even brighter during breeding season. I couldn’t find that reference–though it sounds plausible.

I did learn, to my dismay, that fashionable ladies, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, delighted in wearing hats adorned with the (breeding!) plumes from Snowy Egrets. So not only were they killing these birds for fashion, they were killing them at a time when the egrets were trying to keep their species alive.

In 1886, according to All About Birds, these plumes were valued at $32 an ounce. Gold was half the price. That would be $924.92 in for an ounce of plumes in today’s inflation-adjusted prices. (At the time of this writing, an ounce of gold is selling for $1800.60.) The Snowy Egret population had decreased to dangerous levels when, according to Wikipedia, the trade in the Snowy Egret plumes was discontinued in the United States in 1910 (though it continued in Central and South America for some time). These egrets are now protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The birth of the bird conservation movement was driven in part by the desire to protect the Snowy Egret from women’s vanities. The Snowy Egret’s current threat is, like that of many birds, habitat loss.

I spotted a Snowy Egret recently at Antonelli Pond. It was standing in shallow water and I was able to take several pictures of it. I thought I’d share those, and some less recent ones from Katherine’s and my bike rides along the Coastal Bluffs Trail of Wilder Ranch State Park.

See you next time!

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