Tag Archives: Great Egret

A Modest Start: Great Egrets Nest Building

The spot this Great Egret pair have chosen doesn’t look like much despite a lot of activity bringing and re-arranging sticks.

They have a ways to go before this will hold an egg. This may be why some Great Egrets will aggressively steal nests from other birds.

They spend a lot of time posturing and pushing. Other pairs that I have observed appear to be about the same size but the male of this couple is considerably larger, and pushier.

Every stick that comes to the site gets moved two or three times.

Time out for a few words then a quick trip for another stick.

These photographs were taken in the late morning with the sun behind the Great Egrets. This provided nice light through the wings but leaves their heads in shadow. Once again out in the pond would be the ideal place to stand.

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Great Egrets in Low Light

A group of about twenty Great Egrets have taken over an area of the Audubon Swamp recently cleared of invasive cattails and other weeds. Some have started nests and others are still concentrating on their flirting skills.

I got to this spot about a half hour before sundown when there wasn’t quite enough light for sharp shots at this distance. The favored trees where most of the Great Egret mating dance activity was going on are facing the other side of the open water with no human access points.

A few of the Egrets did stop and pose in clearer areas, before they looped around again to impress potential mates.

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Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp, 3/4/2017.

Great Egrets Nest Building

With less than an hour until the sun went down this Great Egret male stepped up his efforts to bring sticks to the nest.

He selected sticks of all sizes and on some trips took quite awhile to pick them out.

The female may already be sitting on eggs: she didn’t stand up when he got to the nest. She happily accepted the sticks he brought, rearranging each one multiple times.

He flew to several points around the pond in his efforts, providing me with multiple angles for photographs.

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Great Egret, Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp, 3/4/2017.

Great Egret Stick Gathering

Selection of the sticks to add to the nest is important business. This Great Egret selected and discarded a few before being satisfied.

Great Egret

A short trip back to the nest.


This was repeated several times with sticks selected from several points around the pond.

Great Egret Nest Building

The female took each contribution and added it to the nest.

Great Egrets Nesting

Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp Rookery, 3/3/2017.

Great Egret Treetop Landing

The spindly looking branches didn’t look like they would hold this Great Egret.

Great Egret Landing

But at only about 2 pounds according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the egret stuck the landing very easily.


A few flaps of his wings and balance from the tail and he was set. The breeding plumage adds to the show but doesn’t have much substance to add to flight negotiations.


About ten minutes later he was still there, grooming as the light faded just before sundown.

Great Egret Breeding Plumage

Marsh Flyovers

A number of wading birds have returned to this marsh area in the last few weeks. The numbers of Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons had gone down to just one or two that were easy to see the last few times I was here.


Today a half dozen of both the Great Blues and Egrets were in and out of a canal area that is conducive to full body photos.


The reeds that make up most of the marsh are slowly sinking as winter progresses, making it a little easier to see birds approaching and where they land.

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