We came around the corner of the house this afternoon to find a very tall bird visitor in My Florida Backyard.
Great Egrets (Ardea alba) are common wading in the shallows on the edge of our lake, but they sometimes wander up into our yard as well. In the lake, they'll target fish, frogs, and other small water creatures. On dry land, their prey include lizards and snakes.
Great Egrets are found around the world. In the U.S., they are seen in much of the country during migration and summer months, but in Florida and along the whole Gulf Coast, we're lucky enough to have them in residence year-round.
The Great Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society. When the society was founded in 1905, one of its major goals was to protect birds like the Great Egret from being killed for their tail feathers. These gorgeous plumes were eagerly sought by society women to trim their hats, and egrets and others were slaughtered in huge numbers (their populations plummeted by up to 95 percent) and left to rot after their feathers were harvested. Society founder George Grinnell was appalled by the carnage, and founded the society to protect them.
Today, Great Egrets thrive in Florida's wetlands, and are a common sight just about everywhere - we see them daily in My Florida Backyard. They are a true testament to what caring conservationists can accomplish when they inspire those around them to care as well.