Capricorn Coast Birds
   
 
 
  Great Egret
Ardea alba
Average size 80cm
 
 
 
     
     
     
     
 

 
     
     
 
The Egret in the photo above is in breeding plumage, the long ornamental feathers , called nuptial plumes,  hanging  across the lower back appear at this time. Egrets were hunted for these plumes in the Victorian era when it became fashionable for women to wear large hats decorated in elaborate creations of silk flowers, ribbons, and exotic bird plumes. The fashion, which began in the 1870s, became so widespread that by 1886 many thousands of birds were being killed for the millinery trade. The plumes sold for $32 an ounce in 1915, this was also the price of gold at the time. By 1900 more than five million birds were being killed every year and many Egret species faced extinction as a result, fortunately the fashion passed and Egret numbers recovered.
 
     
 
In all the photos you can clearly see the characteristic serpentine neck that Great Egrets have, though more pronounced in the Great Egret this neck kink is a distinctive feature of Herons and Egrets and is due to the elongation of one of the neck bones. This bone is part of a special hinge mechanism at the sixth vertebra that allows Herons and Egrets to rapidly extend their folded neck and adds significant force to a strike at prey. The mechanism works in a similar way to a spear thrower; using leverage to achieve greater velocity in throwing spears , or in the Heron's case the bird's upper neck, head and beak.
 
     
     
     
     
     
 
   
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other egrets and Herons

 
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