Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Critter of the Week: Snowy Egret

The snowy egret is a common site on Panther Island (this photo however was taken in the Everglades!). They are distinguished by their black legs and yellow slippers. This species forages in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. I have seen them fly low over water dragging their feet in the water, land, and forage after fish that followed these feet. They will also wiggle their feet around to startle prey. They eat crustaceans, insects, and fish.
Snowy egrets are monogamous during breeding season and will nest in colonies with other wading birds. The colonies form in mangrove islands and swamps in emergent vegetation over water. Nests are built out of sticks and then lined with fine twigs and rushes. Both sexes build the nest. Incubation, a responsibility of both parents, lasts from 20-24 days. The young will stay in the nest for about 30 days before heading out on their own.
The snowy egret is one of the numerous species that were almost wiped out by plume hunters at the turn of the century. Hunters killed them for their feathers for women's hats. While their numbers rebounded over the years, they are still listed in Florida as a species of special concern due to declining breeding numbers, probably due to loss of and degradation of wetlands and coastal breeding habitats.

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