In the Victorian era, the long, elegant white feathers that grace the backs of great egrets in breeding season were eagerly sought for the millinery trade. Egrets and many other birds were hunted close to extinction for the whims of fashion. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act that was passed in 1918 in the US along with similar legislation that was enacted in Great Britain. protected most birds and prevented the decimation of egrets and many other birds. For more than 100 years, it has been illegal in this country to possess a feather, or other bird parts, nests, and eggs of any bird with the exception of a very few, non native wild birds (pigeons, house sparrows, and starlings are not covered by this law). The rookery at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm offers a unique opportunity to view the elegant great egrets in full breeding plumage.
Here, a male great egret has selected a stick to present to his mate for the nest. Moments after I took this shot, this egret flew to the nest and offered the stick to his mate as a part of their mating ritual.