This elegant bird species is the best success story to illustrate the importance and power of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Before the MBTA was enacted by Congress in 1918, this species was hunted almost to extinction because of its breeding plumage. It was considered high fashion to wear the fancy feathers in hats and the like, so hundreds of thousands of birds were slaughtered for these delicate feathers. These feathers were so valued that “in 1886 these plumes were valued at $32 per ounce, which was twice the price of gold at the time.”
July’s bird of the month is the iconic Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)!!!!
The slender Snowy Egret is now like the pigeons of New York, it’s a guarantee you will see at least one on every trip to Bolsa Chica. With its perfectly white fluffy feathers, active feeding behavior near the edges of the water, and golden yellow feet, this bird is hard to miss. It may not be as big, at only 24″ long; 41″ wing span; 13oz, as its cousins the Great Egret (Ardea alba), but what it lacks in height it makes up in behavior. Remember I mentioned yellow feet? One way this bird hunts is by using those bright feet to swish the ground to startle and stir up prey. Sometimes it will flint about by running, walking, even leaping in the shallows putting on quite the show. Other times it will be stone still and strike its prey all within a blink of an eye. No matter what they are doing, snowy egrets sure are a delight to see at Bolsa Chica.
Learn more about the Year of the Bird from: Audubon, BirdLife International, National Geographic, Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Learn more about the Migratory Bird Treaty Act: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Explained
New to birding? Check out this beginner’s guide to birding!
Watch the birds of Bolsa Chica live on our Eco-Cam!
Photo: Steve Eric Smith