An egret nesting colony is a nursery, a neighborhood, and a battleground all in one

Egrets are beautiful, especially in their breeding plumage, when they sport long curved plumes and dramatically colored faces.

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Great Egret displaying breeding plumes and a green face.

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Snowy Egret with similar plumes and a red face.

Those breeding plumes are so beautiful that demand for them—for decorating women’s hats—almost drove egrets to extinction, and concern for the heavily persecuted egrets is what gave rise to the bird conservation movement in the early 20th century.

Egrets earn those luscious plumes. Before they get to be adults in breeding plumage, egrets must survive a cutthroat childhood in considerably less impressive dress.

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Yikes, THAT’S what our chicks look like??

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Scary birds

In honor of Halloween: some birds you would not want to meet in a dark alley at night. (Warning: first two sections contain photos of predation.)

Shrikes

Loggerhead Shrike. Photo by Jeff Jones.

Shrikes are medium-sized birds—the Northern Shrike is slightly smaller than an American Robin—and, upon first glance, fairly unassuming. Perhaps you notice the somewhat raptor-like bill; perhaps the extra notch on that bill, the tomial tooth; perhaps not. But it is only because you are much, much bigger than a shrike that you can afford to be so careless of this fearsome predator.

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