Observing snowy egrets on a recent trip to Sanibel Island’s J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge was like watching a choreographed dance on water.
These birds cannot swim and generally hunt for food by walking in shallow water, but on this day they were fishing in greater depths. The snowy egrets took turns flying just above the water, dragging both feet, beaks poised to grab any small fish, crabs, amphibians or insects they stirred up near the surface.
Snowy egrets are typically about 20 inches long with wingspans of 38 inches. They have black beaks and bright yellow feet, and have a lifespan of up to 17 years. Beautiful and agile, they’re also successful fishermen.