Bon Jour, dear Barbara,
You wouldn’t believe who was back this morning @ the Riverside St bridge! Remember when I described to you the curious behavior of the dainty, juvenile Snowy Egret, who claimed the narrow water channel by the under-path as her Queendom? You had asked me back then, why I defined her as a female juvenile. Well, I still am not 100% sure that she is a she since only a slight size difference sets the sexes apart. Also I am encouraged in my ID since in comparison to the other Snowy Egrets she quite dainty even for a juvenile. This indicates that she is more than likely of female persuasion. She gives her age away w/her yellow legs, which will turn black on her maturity w/striking yellow her feet & gothic black mud caked nails. Breeding season will tell the true sex tale: the male will select the tree nest location, try to tempt her w/his tree nest dance performance by strutting the length of his neck & breadth of his wings & she will decide if his offer suits her or not. If she agrees, her architectural nest building talent kicks in & if he is smart, he stays out of way during her busy focused creation flurry in the name of future generation comfort.
The reason she caught my attention a couple months ago was her truly unique behavior: She was not one to carefully, stealthily wade through the water, patiently, almost paralyzed eyeing for fish movement & then w/lightening speed spear the food morsel. No, she took a very different approach to feeding herself. She would hop stiffly through the water w/raised feather head gear ( still growing in) & then dash w/a loud, scratchy battle cry @ her prey. Having observed the slow, careful, traditional Snow Egret fishing behavior I started to get worried about her avant guard fishing method, being certain that the grateful fish had been sufficiently alarmed of her intention & her ending up with an empty belly. But then I was assured, that her novel technique proved successful when she swallowed a fish.
When the river breached & the tidal action was re-established, the chirp went out far & wide to the other Snowy Egrets in the County & they arrived eagerly to share Ms Petite’s Queendom. There would be up to 20 Snowy Egrets white-dotting “her” water channel. Plus many of the fish eating birds had heard the splashing of the water drum as well. They swarmed in, ready for the feast.
This was not a welcomed development for Ms Petite’s peace of mind. She would make repeated attempts to clear her water channel of the new-comers. She would hop on stiff legs, juvenile head plumage up, screeching her battle cry & catapult her agitated energy packed body @ the others, who would pretty much ignore her. They would move nonchalantly a little further up & down the river, then return to her Queendom.
One day I saw her all by herself a little further upriver, still busy w/her personal fishing style. & then she disappeared, which made me I miss visiting w/her. The large amount of Snowy Egrets dwindle way down over the last couple of weeks, but still no sight of Ms Petite, which made me think she had abandoned her Queendom. Consequently you can imagine my delight of seeing Ms Petite back @ her favorite spot. There she was, all dressed up in brilliant white feathers, greenish yellow legs & fancy yellow feet. She looked mighty fine, head feathers raised, hopping stiffly towards her prey & uttering her battle cry.
“Welcome back, little One” greetings to you
P.S. Sorry for poor Ms Petite pic. quality. Just thought you might like to see her in action.