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Snowy Egrets Becoming More Colorful

4-18-17 snowy egret 053

For those New Englanders fortunate enough to live on the coast, Snowy Egrets are a welcome sight this time of year as they return from their wintering grounds to breed. Like most herons and egrets, they acquire plumes – long, wispy feathers – on their back, neck and head during the breeding season. (These plumes were highly sought after by the women’s hat trade in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. They were valued at $32 per ounce, twice the price of gold at the time. Eventually laws were passed to protect the birds.)

Something slightly more subtle but equally as dramatic as ornate plumage highlights the appearance of these birds in the breeding season and that is a change in bill and feet coloration. Different species of herons and egrets exhibit different color changes. Snowy Egrets’ greenish-yellow feet turn a much richer orange-yellow hue during the breeding season, and the patch of bare skin at the base of their bill (lore) changes from a yellowish color to a pinkish/reddish color, only seen at this time of year.

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4 responses

  1. I learned something today. Thanks Mary!

    April 18, 2017 at 10:23 am

  2. Beryl Barr-Sharrar

    He’s a fashion plate! (Assuming it’s a male; wonder what the females look like.)

    B.

    April 18, 2017 at 11:28 am

  3. Such a beautiful bird!

    April 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm

  4. This is what we saw on Granite Point in the marsh. They nested all around us in Florida. Hundreds of em. They would nest and sleep in the mangroves growing out of the bays all around our house. Don’t think ‘historically ‘ they came up this far North. They sure do now!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    April 18, 2017 at 4:34 pm

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