Birds – Egrets

The large Egrets form a very interesting and showy group, by some referred to the genus Herodias, but by others placed in the same genus as those we have been considering. They are pure, often glistening white in color through-out, with beautiful elongated plumes on the back, these constituting the aigrettes so highly prized (unfortunately) for millinery decoration. The European species (H. Alba), found from southern Europe through central Asia to the Indian peninsula and in Africa, has the bill black in summer and yellow in winter, while the American Egret (H. egretta) of temperate and tropical America, and the Timor species (H. Timoriensis) of Japan, China, the Malay Archipelago, and Australia, have the bill yellow throughout the entire year. The American Egret is a shy bird at all times and a great wanderer. Usually but few are seen together, although in suitable localities, as in Florida and certain places in the Western States, it nests in communities, the nests being placed in bushes or trees, all the way from six to one hundred and fifty feet from the ground. In the South the numbers of this species have been sadly depleted by plume hunters. The Snowy Egret (Ardea (or Garzetta) candidissima) is another handsome species, twenty to twenty-seven inches in length, pure white in color, with the plumes of head, neck, and back greatly developed, those of the back extending to or beyond the tail and recurved at the tips. It is or was formerly found throughout all the warm portions of North and South America, though it has been practically exterminated in the United States. It is common on the pampas of Argentina, where, Hudson tells us, it is more active and social in its habits than most Herons, being usually seen in small flocks. While there are many other fine Herons, we have space for the mention of but a single additional one, the Agami Heron (Agamia agami) of South America. It is a beautiful bird, about thirty-two inches in length, and, as may be seen from our colored plate, is a glossy dark green above, with ornamental plumes of pearly gray on the lower back. The lower parts are largely chestnut in color, while the head is set off by a crest of slaty blue. It is a native of the dense tropical growth from Mexico to Peru and Brazil.