This Snowy Egret caught a small fish that had not retreated to deeper water as the tide dropped. It was trapped in a shallow puddle, and the bird nabbed it. The snowy, like other fishing raptors, takes its time preparing the prey for consumption. There’s a lot of shaking, pinching, dropping and picking up, dipping in water, and lining it up in the bill before the bird opens its very flexible throat and slides the fish in, all in one piece. I’ve not seen fishing birds chop up a fish before eating it, the way that the White-tailed Kite, for example, rips apart a mouse.
Snowy Egrets were hunted almost to extinction for their feathers as ornaments for ladies’ hats before World War I. The movement to save them gave rise to the modern conservation movement more generally. Here are some frames displaying this bird’s feathers as it’s preening, shaking, and taking off.