Not a Pair

Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula)

The two Snowy Egrets in the video weren’t a mated pair, as far as I could tell. The second one flew in after the first had been at work for some time. But it sometimes looked like the bigger one, the male, had pairing up in mind. However, the female wasn’t having any, and kept changing the subject to foraging for breakfast.

When the northwesterly wind puffed up the male’s feathers, you could see why the millinery trade in the 1890s created such a demand for them that the feathers were worth more than their weight in gold. The birds were slaughtered to the point of extirpation in many localities to satisfy this greed. The modern conservationist movement arose in large part as pushback against this savagery, and with the adoption of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the species gradually recovered. But elimination of shoreline wetlands threatens their numbers today.

They are known to breed in the San Francisco Bay Area. There have been past reports of egret nests in a cypress tree near the Hilton Doubletree hotel next to the park, but I could not confirm this currently.

Both birds in the video used the scratch method to stir up little fish and other marine protein in the tidal puddles. The birds used either leg to do the stirring; they didn’t seem “handed” the way that humans are, favoring one over the other. All the edibles that I saw them capture by that method this morning were tiny, swallowed in one snap, without the need for adjustments.

Snowy Egrets (Egretta thula)

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