Sunday, September 26, 2010

Snowy Egrets Around Cape May

Snowy Egrets are a constant presence along New Jersey's coast. I have seen them in every month from March through November, and eBird's database says that they have been recorded in the state during December through February by others. It is a good thing to have them around for so long because Snowy Egrets are very charismatic birds.

The feathers on their heads and backs sometimes stand up, giving the bird a ruffled appearance.

Larger herons like Great Egret and Great Blue Heron use a hunting strategy that involves standing still and patiently waiting for prey to come within striking distance. Unlike them, Snowy Egrets forage actively. They stir up mud as they walk in the hope of flushing any prey that might be hiding there.

The contrasting black legs and yellow feet are a reliable field mark for this species. Watch a Snowy Egret in action, and you will see plenty of those yellow feet. Immature birds, though, might not show quite as much contrast as adults since the backs of their legs are often yellow.

All of these photos were taken on an evening at Cape May Meadows with the exception of the last two, which were taken during the birding by boat cruise and at Brigantine, respectively.