Every birder has what is known as a “spark bird” – the one that first made one’s heart race faster and sparked an interest in birding. Anyone who knows me even in passing knows that mine is the Great Egret, an elegant member of the heron family. Great Egrets can have a wingspan up to five feet, but weigh as little as two pounds! With literally feather-weight wings stroking the air slowly and super-long neck tucked in, the Great Egret is one of the most ethereal birds in flight.
In breeding plumage, the Great Egret has ornamental feathers (aigrettes) flowing from its back like a bridal veil, and the area between the bill and the eyes (lore) turns an iridescent lime green. This large, all white bird is easily spotted lurking along the water’s edge looking for a fish to spear and eat, but on occasion can be found high up in a tree preening with great care – every feather counts!
Normally quite serene, even a Great Egret can get its feathers ruffled, as seen here at Turtle Pond. Sadly, these birds are only resident in Central Park from March through about September, so enjoy them before they head south for the winter.
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