A GREAT EGRET, at the Grand Basin in Forest Park, seen on Tuesday of last week.
A member of the Heron family — its Latin name Ardea alba means ‘white heron’ — this large bird species is found worldwide in tropical and warm temperate regions. This bird will likely fly south soon as Saint Louis days quickly become shorter and colder.
Almost extinct by 1933, due to hunting for their plumes, this species has made a big comeback. A few decades ago, the main place hereabouts to see this bird was along the flood plains of the Mississippi River. They gathered in large flocks which could be seen from a distance. However, this habitat was temporarily wiped out by the Great Flood of 1993, and they are now found much closer to humans.
The Latin name for Heron, Ardea, was also the name of an ancient city burned by the Trojans. Vergil and Ovid tell us this city got its name from the bird.
This particular bird seemed to care less that I was close enough to take the photo. As my lens was zoomed out all the way to only 55 mm, this was barely a telephoto shot.
OK, maybe I got too close. The bird flew off and landed a short distance away. At that time I noticed that there were two other photographers, with proper long telephoto lenses, also taking photos of this particular bird. I apologized.
Some Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos) nearby.