Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Nuptial Plumes

The Great White Egret was nearly hunted to extinction because of the lacy "aigrettes" it grows during breeding season, shown here as long tubular feathers draped gracefully over this bird's back at Huntington Beach State Park, South Carolina.

Also known as "nuptial plumes," they were a fashion fad that drove a frenzy of plume hunting in the late 19th century. Plume hunters laid waste to entire rookeries of nesting birds leaving hatchlings and eggs to the elements and predators. Today the majestic white birds are ubiquitous where I live in the South Carolina Low Country. They are common sights because of early 20th century conservation efforts by many people and groups including President Theodore Roosevelt, former plume hunters turned game wardens guarding protected rookeries, The Audubon Society, even Tabasco Sauce heir Edward McIlhenny. I thank them and all the forward thinking conservationists of that time that preserved this bird for the future.

Something to think about the next time you see an Egret or squirt Tabasco Sauce on your omelette!

Tom Bradley  ©  2015