Snowy Egret – Will Dance For Food

The Lord of Leisure1 Photo Gallery

Lord Of Leisure writes:

This series of photos, taken October 5, 2011 at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia, shows a Snowy Egret demonstrating its fascinating feeding behavior.  It hops, chases, and runs in what resembles nothing so much as a moderately bizarre dance to corral a meal of fish and crustaceans.   This excerpt from Cornell University’s North American Birds on Line describes the choreography:

Behaviors include standing, bill-vibrating (tongue-flicking), head-swaying, pecking, walking slowly, walking quickly, running, hopping, leapfrog feeding, wing-flicking, openwing-feeding, underwing-feeding, foot-stirring, foot-raking, foot probing, foot paddling, hovering, hover-stirring, dipping, disturb and chase, and foot-dragging. Effectiveness may be enhanced owing to greater visual acuity than most other wading birds.2

There is more information about these behaviors at the link.

Click on photo and thumbnails for best viewing.

DrHGuy Note: There is a nifty video that displays this feeding behavior at ARKive (produced by the BBC Natural History Unit).  While watching the egrets actually perform the motions described may be more instructional than viewing the still images, the videos miss – at least  by my eyes – the splendor captured in these photos.

Previous Egret Photos By Lord Of Leisure

  1. Lord of Leisure was previously known in these posts as Mr. Science. Both Lord of Leisure and Mr Science spend most of their time disguised as Neil Ellis, mild-mannered, retired teacher at a great suburban school system, who can identify a bird by its call, complete the New York Times Friday Crossword in ink, and snap a heck of a photo. All Lord of Leisure photos can be found at Photos – Lord of Leisure. []
  2. Caldwell, G. S. 1981. Attraction to tropical mixed-species heron flocks: proximate mechanism and consequences. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 8:99-103. []

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