The Colors of Bird Love

April 3, 2010

When its mating season in Bird Land the male gets all dressed up to capture his lady love.  Some of the most striking are the white egrets. Great Egrets grow long white plumes and the hormones racing through their bodies turn their lores bright green.  (Lores are the skin of region between the eye and the beak.)  They pose in various stretches and postures and look quit the dandy, as my mother used to say. No, she didn’t say that about birds, just about men who dressed up in fancy duds to impress the ladies in her day.

Great Egret in mating plumage

Great Egret, posing for the ladies

But that’s not all. They stretch and display their wares in many delicate postures, like this.

Great Egret, posturing for a mate

Look at my lovely neck

Snowy Egrets, always colorful with their yellow feet and black legs, frizz up their feathers and their lores turn fire-engine red when it’s courting time.  Here is a non-breeding Snowy, looking like he is about to do a belly flop. Actually the camera caught him taking off, half-way through the first flap. Notice his fancy yellow boots.

Non-breeding Snowy Egret

See my cute boots!

When the male Snowy gets all fired up, his red lores make him look like he is about to blow his top! Notice his long, shaggy plume-like feathers. Not as long as the Great Egret’s, but not bad for a small bird.

Snowy Egret in mating colors

A red-hot lover!

And graceful, too, as he flies to his mate.

Snowy Egret, mating plumage

"Here I am!!!"

Cattle Egrets are normally a bit drab, with pale lores, pale legs and pale eyes.  Only a bit of cinnamon on their heads and bellies.

Cattle Egret, non-breeding

Don't I look fierce?

Catle Egret, posing

"Sometimes I just feel strange."

But the Cattle Egret’s legs turn pink, the beak turns bright red-orange and the lores are colored with a shade of violet.

Cattle Egret, lores brigh oragne for mating

"Wish I could quit scowling."

And here we have a happy pair.

male and female Cattle Egrets in mating colors

The Happy Pair

For mostly white birds, the Egrets can really color it up when its is time to mate!