Tag Archives: Great Egret

Great Egrets At Nest

I featured this Great Egret nest as the pair was starting to build. They had made some progress about 10 days later.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting – Click photo for larger view

Look between the Great Egrets’ legs for a peek at one of the Great Blue Heron chicks in his nest.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting – Click photo for larger view

The Great Egret pair showing some affection in between grooming activities,

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting – Click photo for larger view

From a different angle you can see how close together these nests are. On this day there was one Great Blue Heron nest, three Great Egret nests and one Anhinga nest. The Anhinga nest has since either failed or was raided and is no longer there.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Blue Heron looking into Great Egret Nest – Click photo for larger view

Photos taken 4/10/2017, Charleston, SC.

 

 

Great Egrets in Flight

On a recent trip to the rookery one some work was being done near a nesting area to remove some debris before the birds start their nests. A few Great Egrets treated us to an aerial show as they shifted around while work was in progress.

Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

The flights provided a variety of shooting opportunities, with various wing poses and backgrounds as the circled around to return to their spots.

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

Coming in for a landing with a squawk:

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

I am amazed by the ability of these huge birds to navigate through branches.

Great Egret Landing

A beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds completes a classic flying shot.

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

Photographed 4/10/2017, Charleston, SC.

Neighbors

Two pairs of Great Egrets are nesting condo style, their homes less than two feet apart separated only by a small branch. This is a prized location, surrounded by water for extra safety from ground predators, so there was competition for the nest sites.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting

Their nests claimed, each pair went about its business this sunny afternoon.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Mating

The ritual is very similar to what I have observed with the Great Blue Heron pairs: bring sticks, re-arrange sticks, mate, bring sticks.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Working on Nest

Squawking from the other nest is mostly ignored, a lot like humans living in close proximity.

Great Egrets Nesting
Great Egrets Nesting

 

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.

Click on any photo for larger view.

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.

Click on any photo for larger view.

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.

Click on any photo for larger view.

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.

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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.

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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.

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

Great Egret Breeding Plumage