By Judy McIntyre
So my unbusy lifestyle continues and the lake critters continue to teach me new things on a daily basis. A few days ago I had a number of visitors in the cove. Thank goodness they were not human visitors, as I am still not used to exactly how to handle social distancing! It seems so awkward. My visitors wore feathery white wings, and there was a host of them on the shoreline. No, they were not angels, they were Great White Egrets. 17 Great Whites to be exact! I do not normally have 17 Great Whites in the cove. I usually have only 2, and they are joined by a Blue Heron who is very bossy and very vocal. The rest of the neighborhood is comprised of a nesting pair of wood ducks, and a community of happy purple martins who stay busy all day clearing the air of mosquitoes. The Eagle glides overhead on a daily basis but chooses to land in the top of my neighbor’s oak tree rather than mine. In the yard I am blessed with hundreds of little songbirds, a Great Horned Owl, a variety of woodpeckers, doves, brown thrushes, and migratory birds who are only stopping over. The hummingbirds are just arriving even though once again we have gone from warm to cool weather.
So back to the question of WHY do I suddenly have 17 Great White Egrets in my cove. It happens every spring. The first time I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. Egrets are very territorial which means they don’t behave well with others! What I see every spring gives me hope that if birds can learn to cooperate and follow directions, maybe there is hope for the human race. The 17 egrets were spaced out along the shoreline of the cove and the point off my neighbor’s property with exact spacing! There was exactly 6 feet of space between each pair of birds. This does not happen in the summer or fall or winter-just in the spring. The line of birds stretched about 100 feet. I researched Egrets and discovered no information on this strange behavior. So I will tell you my guess. This time of year, the crappie (white perch, or sac au lait) are making their run to the bank to spawn. As the crappie come in, the minnows are driven into the shallows. The Great Whites have sent out a message to gather for the annual spring feast. Please note that they have not invited the Blue Heron. I have noticed that they prefer to watch from the shore for a minnow to swim by and then spear it with their beak. They like to keep their feet dry although there are times when I see them wading as well. Every spring I marvel at their gathering and their exact spacing. This year I may have to amend my guess and just say that the Egrets got the message from Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx, and they are practicing social distancing to insure that none of them get the Corona Virus.
President Trump and Vice President Pence, you should be pleased that something, somewhere is listening and practicing social distancing. I just wonder how birds understand distance and know what 6 feet looks like. Surely, we are smarter than they are! Come on, everybody, if the Great White Egrets can do it, we can, too!