For the last few days, I’ve been seeing this tall white bird standing motionless on the side of Great Cruz Bay Road in more or less the same spot. Being that he or she was being so cooperative as a photographer’s model, I went home, got my camera.
I’ve seen these birds many times on St. John, usually in shallow waters near shore or in salt ponds, but I wasn’t too sure of its exact name. I thought it was a Snowy Egret (wrong) or a Great Heron (close but no cigar) It is in fact a Great Egret, identified by its black legs and yellow beak. The snowy egret has a black beak, black legs, but yellow feet. The Great Heron needs to be qualified. It’s either a Great Blue Heron or a Great White Heron.
Wikipedia to the rescue: “The Great Egret (Ardea alba), also known as Great White Egret, Common Egret, Large Egret or Great White Heron”
I also found out some other cool stuff. It stands still like that waiting for prey to come by. This could be fish if it were standing, but in this case I surmise that the egret was looking for lizards. When one comes near enough, the egret makes a lightning quick strike, spearing the poor lizard with its sharp beak.
The Great Egret is doing well as a species, but was almost wiped out in the late 1800s when their feathers became popular as a hat decoration, but was probably saved from extinction when the National Audubon Society chose the Great Egret in flight as its symbol.