Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Enjoying Egrets

By Nancy Miller

I didn’t want to spend another weekend cooped up under the air conditioning, so I got up early this morning so I could go to the refuge before it got too hot. The sunrise was beautiful! It is always so peaceful early in the morning. The water is smooth as glass, a great time to get pictures with reflections.

I pulled up Egret road and was just amazed at the white I could see scattered about, guess that’s why they named that pad Egret. I counted 80-90 Egrets between Wildlife and the oil rig at the end of the road. That was just on the west side! I wonder if some of the birds up north have already started their journey south for there to be so many at one place?

I parked in the shade and just watched these beautiful creatures. I find it very entertaining to sit and watch the gracefulness of the Great Egret, and what I call “Attitude” of the Snowy Egret. The Snowy seems to be more territorial than the bigger species. Their plumes on the top of their head stick up like they just got electrocuted, as they run off others that try to invade their fishing spot! I once took 100 pictures while watching one of these Snowy with an attitude, of course they didn’t all turn out, but I keep several of them anyway, just to look back and remember the joy I had watching them. They still bring a smile to face when I look at them.

I searched the internet on these birds, and learned that they are a protected species. “Before they were protected by law the birds were nearly exterminated by hunters seeking their beautiful, white, silky plumage called aigrettes, used in millinery. These feathers develop during the breeding season. In the Great Egret the plumes are straight, about 21 in. (52.5 cm) long, growing on the back. The smaller Snowy Egret, the most beautiful and most hunted, has curved plumes on the back, head, and breast”.

(Information found on

We are now at the beginning of September and Fall is less than a month a way. It’s saddening to know they will be migrating south in the next few months, and we won’t see them again till around the Spring. I hope people get out to the Refuge to enjoy the beauty of these birds, and I hope you get some of the enjoyment I do watching them, while they are still here.

For more information about Hagerman NWR, please go to and for information about activities and programs at the Refuge as well as photo albums, go to

(Photo by Nancy Miller)

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