Yesterday’s post was about the Great Egret. In that post I questioned past posts that spoke of Snowy Egrets. Today’s post hopes to put all those questions to rest. Yesterday was all about Great Egrets and today is all about Snowy Egrets and how I have learned how to tell the difference between the two.
There is a size difference which can be difficult to figure out, unless they just happen to be standing next to each other, which yesterday they were. The Great Egret is of course greater. When they are in their breeding plumage it is easier to tell the difference between a Great Egret, with its longer, more stringy plumage and a Snowy Egret with its shorter, but fluffier plumage. The most reliable way to tell the difference between the two birds is the color of their bills. Great Egrets have yellow bills, while Snowy Egrets have black bills,but the surest way to tell the difference is the color of their feet. The bird has to be flying, like yesterday’s header, or standing out of the water, like on a rock, like this guy to the right. Great Egrets have black feet, while Snowy Egrets have yellow feet, just like they are wearing yellow galoshes, just perfect for wading in.
Being able to identify a bird, while in the field, is the birder’s ideal. My method is a little different. If I see a bird that I don’t recognize, I snap its picture. When I get home I consult Sibley’s. Even with such an excellent guidebook, mistakes can still be made. Overtime though you build up a sort of database of birds. Each new sighting, photograph or consultation adds to that personal database. Eventually you correct any mistakes and get it right.
I biked in the Park yesterday. I rode fifteen miles. I took this post’s picture of the Snowy Egret then. Today’s header was taken on my Tuesday morning ride. Like Wednesday’s header it shows Pagoda Island, but from a different point of view. Pagoda Circle is near the geographic center of the Park. In any event is certainly the spiritual heart of the Park.
Just about the time yesterday morning, when it was time to head for the barn, another guy on a bike pulled up, with od courae a camera in hand. I had been looking for a killdeer’s nest, that I had seen on someone else’s website and I asked him about it. He explained that he wasn’t a birder and wouldn’t know a killdeer from Adam. I pointed out the egrets that I had just snapped and bade him a good morning and headed for home and then work.