Sunday, January 29, 2012

Interesting Fact: Egrets

Did you know? . . . that the long, beautiful plumes of egrets and herons during breeding season start growing in the prebasic molt.  These plumes start growing in the fall and grow throughout the winter and up to the breeding season.  Most birds attain their breeding plumage through a prealternate molt in the spring.  To understand this you need some understanding of how a normal molt cycle works.  In extremely basic terms (that are not 100% accurate, but do help people understand molt strategies) the basic plumage is the winter plumage and the alternate plumage is the breeding plumage.  So the prealternate molt is the molt that attains the breeding plumage while the prebasic molt is the molt that attains the winter plumage.

Snowy Egret in Little Estero Lagoon-In this pic you can see the long breeding plumes that started growing in the fall and have continued growing throughout the winter until the next breeding season.  This photo was taken in March.


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