Snowy Beauty at Merritt Island

I attended the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival for the second time this year, one of the largest birding festivals in the U.S.  Much of the Festival takes place close to one of my favorite birding spots, Merritt Island NWR, near Kennedy Space Center and Titusville, Florida.89455C85-7BCB-4F2A-8DB3-59EA16FA04C7_1_201_aOne of the birds frequently seen along Black Point Wildlife Drive at Merritt Island is the graceful Snowy Egret. Snowies are elegant wading birds with ‘long, wispy’ white plumage, black legs, and ‘brilliant yellow feet’. 12C26F9F-87DB-4241-97D8-5CF616AEB5B9_1_201_aTragically, millions of these beauties were slaughtered for their feathers during the plume trade a little over a century ago. “In 1886 these plumes were valued at $32 per ounce, which was twice the price of gold at the time.”  (All About Birds-Snowy Egret)DF70CD8D-4220-4E3B-B4E1-2EF3C5798051_1_201_aThankfully, the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act afforded many protections to wild birds. As a result, Snowy Egrets are a common sight in Florida year round today – “protection brought a rapid recovery of numbers, and the Snowy Egret is now more widespread and common than ever.” (Audubon.org)

To find out more about the history of the plume trade and those who fought to end it, see: How Two Women Ended the Deadly Feather Trade, 2013, and Keeping Feathers Off Hats and On Birds, 2018

28 thoughts on “Snowy Beauty at Merritt Island

  1. Very nice shots against the dark background! William — “What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.” Psalms 104 The Message

  2. Beautiful shots of a beautiful bird BJ, thankfully the shots are with a camera and not a rifle, and how wonderful this bird is now protected.and has not become extinct as so many have already.

  3. Wonderfully captured! How could anyone had want to kill these birds for their feathers so long ago, so terrible. Thankful this was stopped and the birds could do what they do best, live on to give us beauty and happiness!

    • I’ve always thought the same thing Donna. It’s hard to fathom that shooting these stunning birds – and in such vast numbers! – was commonplace only a little over a century ago.

    • Thanks, Ted. I’m not sure about the closure, but perhaps earlier in the season or more recently in the past month and a half? The whole drive was open when I was there in late January. In fact the BioLab Drive had just re-opened, too.

    • Thank you, Steve! According to iBird Plus, the Snowy : ‘Breeds from Oregon and California east to southern New England, mainly along coastlines. Spends winters regularly from California, Arizona, and Virginia south to the West Indies, throughout Mexico, and into South America’

  4. I have not had the good fortune of birding in Florida yet, but hope to one of these days. The festival might be a good way to learn from local guides.

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