Snowy Egret Foraging at Famosa Slough, San Diego, California

Snowy Egret on the prowl

Snowy Egret on the prowl

Here are some items to note about the Snowy Egret behavior in the video       https://youtu.be/KPrW88Zg3Rg         at the Famosa Slough site, San Diego, California.

First, note the characteristic Snowy Egret shake-a-leg foraging technique used to flush potential prey from their hiding places.

Second, note the running, turning, wing-flashing technique to pursue active prey.  The egret may be using its wings to: 1) help maintain its balance; 2) keep its wing feathers out of the water; 3) shade the water surface to improve the bird’s underwater viewing of potential prey; and/or, 4) create shade to trick a fish into mistaking the shade for a hiding place.

Still looking for food

Still looking for food

Third, note the vigorous bill-shaking response used after the bird jabs into the water column and/or the mud bottom.

I haven’t seen enough instances of the bill-shaking behavior to know if it varies from bird to bird, or if the bird found the water and/or mud distasteful.  Possibly the salt content of the water is too high for the egret’s taste.  Maybe the mud bottom tastes of sulfur (e.g., ferrous sulfide and/or hydrogen sulfide) and that was distasteful to the bird.  Or, perhaps the egret is just trying to shake some mud from its bill.

Famosa Slough

Famosa Slough

 

Information for the visitor

Information for the visitor

As the habitat shows and as the sign indicates, the City of San Diego should be commended for preserving and enhancing a pocket of estuarine salt marsh that clearly is valuable to local wildlife populations and to the citizens of San Diego.

 

 

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