2017—High Island Feeding Frenzy
I’ve been reviewing my photographs and came across this sequence from Smith Oaks Rookery on High Island, Texas from April 2017, taken five months before Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in the area. I was so fascinated by the behavior of these feeding chicks that I took dozens of photographs of their frenzied feeding at intervals throughout our visit there.
There always seems to be a runt in the litters. Connie and I witnessed at least two chicks falling from (or perhaps being pushed out of) the nests and being devoured by the alligators that lurked in the water under the nests. At first, I was worried that the runt in this nest wouldn’t be able to compete. I was wrong. The runt appears in the first shot in the front right. And, by the second shot, it had grabbed onto the adult Egret just as enthusiastically as the other two, larger chicks. In the third shot, the difference in size is quite apparent. And just to show that the adult Great Egret still has an eyeball after the chicks have practically gnawed it off, the last shot shows the eye looking normal. Of course whether the bird still has sight in that eye is questionable.
Nests in the rookery are practically on top of one another. It is a very crowded place. Two large chicks in another nest are visible behind the feeding frenzy, and Roseate Spoonbills and more Great Egrets are visible in the surround trees. I hope that the area can recover from the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey. By the looks of the rigor with which these Great Egret chicks are feeding, my guess is even the runt survived the hurricane.