While staying at North Beach, Maryland each day I walked to a tiny nature preserve, where more-often-than-not I would see this elegant bird. During breeding season adults develop long, wispy feathers on their backs, necks and heads.
The Snowy Egret is one of North America’s most familiar herons, but it was almost hunted to extinction in the late 1800′s, due to their plumes being in demand as decorations for hats.
It was then protected and its numbers not only have rebounded, but its range seems to be expanding as its population has increased. It can be seen in marshes, swamps, ponds and shorelines in both fresh and salt water.
This bird is not only known for its immaculate white feathers, but also for its contrasting yellow feet. It uses its feet to stir up food items – mainly fish and crustaceans, but it also eats worms, insects, snails, snakes, small lizards and frogs.
Like other herons, this two foot tall species nests in colonies, often with other types of wading birds. It was always nice to see this graceful inhabitant of Chesapeake Bay while on my trip.
Third Eye Herp
This organism was quite abundant and frequently seen on my quest for Pacific Ocean tidepool creatures.
Their green color comes from an endosymbiotic (living within the anemone mutually benefiting both organisms), photosynthetic algae in their tentacles and body.
The tentacles can be retracted inside the body cavity or expanded to catch passing prey. When not submerged in the water, they pretty much look like blobs covered with fragments of shells from things they’ve eaten.
Aggregating Anemones catch prey that comes within reach of their tentacles and immobilize it with the aid of their venom-filled stinging cells within their tentacles.
The tentacles are triggered by the slightest touch, firing a harpoon-like filament into their victim and injecting a paralyzing neurotoxin. The prey is then transported to the anemone’s mouth and engulfed.
Despite the potency of its venom to its prey, sea anemones are harmless to humans. I stuck my finger near this one and it wrapped around it, trying to pull my finger into its mouth!
The closest relatives of these amazing creatures are jellyfish and corals. This was a fun animal to make an acquaintance with on my trip to California.
Third Eye Herp