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I photographed this Great Egret the other morning perched on top of a tree.
It perched nearly motionless for a long time before it finally flew. It slowly swiveled its head through a range of motion of nearly 270 degrees but it barely moved a muscle below its neck. I’ve seen egrets doing this quite often. They seem to like to sit and contemplate and, typically, they choose high and exposed perches. I would think that being up there exposed and in plain view might make them vulnerable to predators such as Peregrine Falcons and Great Horned Owls, but the egrets seem to have things figured out. It may be that their vision is sufficiently acute that they can see potential predators from a long distance and seek shelter if approached.
Great Egrets are very large birds, standing nearly four feet tall, but they are extremely light. An adult egret weighs less than two pounds. That enables them to perch on branches and twigs that appear to be too flimsy to support their weight.
I made this photo from a distance of less than 20 feet. The egret was clearly aware of my presence. It turned and stared directly at me from time to time. However, it seemed completely unperturbed by me. Eventually, it flew, but that was after I’d been standing there observing it for nearly 15 minutes. I don’t think that my presence entered into its decision-making process.
Photo taken with a Canon 5Diii, 400 DO, ISO 320, “M” setting, f7.1 @ 1/1000.