The great egret at North Pond

Great egret in the rain (North Pond, Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityI went for a walk in the rain this morning, heading to the North Pond, hoping to see the grey heron again.  I was curious to learn if what I’d been told was true: that it wasn’t a grey heron but a juvenile great blue.

Egret flying (North Pond, Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityA wading bird suddenly rose in flight.  I snapped it, startled at seeing a wing so white.  Instead of the grey heron, here was a beautiful white bird.

Cormorants and geese at the North Pond (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityThe white bird was visible from a great distance away.  Rounding the bottom of the pond, I came to the snag where the cormorants hang.  From there, I could see the white bird, flanked by the great blue heron and the ‘grey heron’, on the opposite side.  (Click image to enlarge.)

The great egret wades in a greeny North Pond (Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CityI returned in the afternoon to get another look at the bird, a great egret, which is easy to identify because of its black legs, yellow bill, and pure white plumage.  It was great fun to see the bird wading along, so elegant-looking.

Great egret taking off (North Pond, Chicago), © 2014 Celia Her CitySmaller than the great blue heron, the great egret has an impressive wingspan.  Its flight is very efficient, too: it flaps its wings just twice a minute while cruising at 25 miles an hour.

The Audubon Society was founded to keep the great egret from extinction. The bird was slaughtered in great numbers in the 19th century, when its feathers (particularly in breeding season, when it grows special fluffy nuptial plumage) were ‘harvested’ to make hats for ladies.  Thanks to preservationists, this glorious bird is still with us today.

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