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Information about & photographs of the white heron or snowy egret

Below are two photographs of the snowy egret or white heron (leucophoyx thula), taken by Peter Wickham, Department of Chemistry, Coe College, in 1997. Professor Wickham holds the copyright to these photos; please contact him at pwickham@coe.edu for permission to reprint.

In Audubon Birds of America, Roger Tory Peterson describes the snowy egret as "the heron with the golden slippers," and notes that it is the symbol of the National Audubon Society. Peterson says:

"At the beginning of this century the little snowy, loveliest of all American herons, was on the way out. Its exquisite plumes, called `aigrettes' by the trade, were worth $32 an ounce, twice their weight in gold. Every heronry was ferreted out and destroyed. As the birds bore these nuptial sprays only at nesting time, the young birds, bereaved of their parents, perished too, and the stench of death hung over every colony. Where there had been hundreds of thousands of egrets in our southern states there soon remained but a few hundred.... Under protection . . . Today snowies by the scores of thousands now nest north to the Great Lakes and southern New England."

Below the two photos of the snowy egret are two more photos of a great white heron.






Great White Heron
While it seems likely that the reference in the text to "the little white heron" and its rarity in Maine identifies Sylvy's bird as a snowy egret, the great white heron is more common in New England.  The following photos by Nancy Wetzel show a great white heron on Drakes Island, near Wells, Maine.

Heron1


Heron2


Photographs copyright 2013 by Nancy Wetzel.


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