Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Darryl Ernst sent us nothing less than a beautiful pas de deux (well, a kerfuffle) of Snowy Egrets. His notes are indented:

A few months ago my daughter, Brianna, was at Sebastian Inlet (a favorite destination of ours in Florida), when she just happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch an “argument” between a pair of Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula). One of the pair was minding its own business, sniping fish, when the other flew in with an attitude. It is impressive how big these relatively small egrets can make themselves look. I am not sure which one got chased away at the end. The egret that won spent some time afterwards fluffing (a technical term) and straightening out its feathers, and then got back to sniping fish.









And one extra. I think I’ve mentioned before the mated pair of Sandhill Cranes (Antigone canadensis) that have nested near us for years and raised several broods(?), typically two each year. Here is a picture from late November of Mom & Dad and their newest pair of children browsing through the reeds near their nesting site. Soon they will be ranging further afield. Even when the young’uns get older, the adults won’t allow me to get close to them but they allow my daughter to walk right along with them when they go foraging as if she were part of the group.



  1. Posted January 26, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I love those yellow feet! But – why are they yellow? Signalling ???

    • darrelle
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure. I’ve been told that the brightly colored feet attract fish. I’ve got no idea if that is accurate though. Wood storks have bright pink feet, rather incongruous compared to the rest of the bird.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      I assume the feet colour is important only in the male & he’s signalling that he’s healthy & of breeding age. My evidence is below, but I’m not a birdologist!

      QUOTE: “Adult Snowy Egrets have greenish-yellow feet for most of the year, but at the height of the breeding season their feet take on a much richer, orange-yellow hue. The bare skin on their face also changes color, from yellow to reddish.”

      Also, from the same source I read that before he’s even got a partner the male builds a nest & then defends the territory around the nest area from other adult males. I assume the female then takes a look around for the male she fancies most – perhaps she just looks at feet & face colour? Or does she nitpick over the nest location & construction too?

      Women eh!

      • Michael Fisher
        Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:35 am | Permalink

        Slight correction: The bloke just starts the nest construction & then he gets selected for mating. She then guards the nest & finishes the nest off to her satisfaction – sending him off to shop for materials.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      Not sure about the feet. But I suspect the black legs are to camouflage the legs in dark water.

  2. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    A great set of pictures! I especially like pictures of animals that are doing something. Hunting, sexing, or in this case squabbling.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      I wish the egret fight could have been caught on video, but the photos are the next best thing. Since you cotton to animals squabbling, If you want to see a couple of rip-roaring squabbles, check these out: and Terrifying — I’m being facetious. I’m sure it is a ferocious fight to the slugs, and to them, they must be moving at breakneck speed, but to a human, it’s only a little more animated than watching grass grow. I had never seen slugs or even thought about slugs squabbling or fighting and find the notion highly amusing, though I know they’re only doing what other animals instinctively do for the same reasons other animals instinctively engage in such behavior. The first has to be in real time, but the speed of the second video I think must have been increased for viewing. And in that second video they’re whacking each other with their penises, located right next to their heads — talk about being a dick head. And what would the PC folks say about hermaphrodite slugs that fight with their penises?

  3. JoanL
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Very nice. Thank you.

  4. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    “Fluffing” is indeed a technical term, though I hadn’t heard it used in ornithology before.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 26, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      Oops. Wouldn’t want to give the wrong impression.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted January 27, 2017 at 3:02 am | Permalink

        Well someone got their teeth into the throbbing heart of the idea.
        Oh, the things that one can blame “QI” for.

  5. Posted January 26, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve seen that kind of behavior in egrets but never been quick enough to catch it in a photo. Great job!

  6. Heather Hastie
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Great pics! How cool to have caught this behaviour on camera.

  7. rickflick
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful birds.

  8. Posted January 27, 2017 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    Lovely pics

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