Egretta garzetta, the scientific name for the little Egret. This slender-necked bird is part of the small heron family and is found mainly in southern UK and Ireland. It can also be spotted throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia and other parts of Europe. Unlike it’s larger cousin; the great white Egret, the little Egret has a dark bill, bright yellow feet and is smaller in stature. In the summer, the little Egret produces extra plumage on its chest and back, with two distinguishing long feathers which flow down the back of its head. These birds can be seen quite often walking through marsh land and ponds, tapping their feet on the floor to disturb any prey that may be close by.
INTERESTING FACT: In the 19th century, little Egrets were hunted and killed for there elegant plumage on the back of their head. It was mainly used in the decoration of hats. As popularity increased for such a rare accessory, prices soared, making these feathers more valuable than gold. This caused sales to rocket throughout Britain seeing millions of Egret skins passed through dealers. Obviously, due to excessive hunting the little Egrets numbers went into decline, causing the overall population to fall dangerously low. However, in the 1950’s conservation laws were put into place which saw the end of the Egret plumage trade. Since then, the little Egret has bounced back with thousands of breeding pairs throughout the world with a population which continues to increase.
A happy ending to a sad story.