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Wood Storks Share the Rookery with Great Egrets

Wood storks are not the only birds constructing nests in the Florida cypress swamp. The crayon green shrub thickets that border the swamp are dotted in white by dozens of egrets standing on saw palmetto and elderberry bushes building their nests and sitting on nests incubating eggs.

A male egret wades in shallow water examining sticks floating on the water. It grabs one, mouths it for a bit then drops it, takes a few steps to another small branch, picks it up out of the water and drops it. It is deliberately looking for a specific length and thickness of twig for its nest. It finds one, grasps it firmly in its beak, flies up to a saw palmetto and drops the twig onto the pile of sticks that form the foundation of a nest. Its mate is there and examines the stem. There seems to be a ceremonial greeting between the two of them; there is squawking and display of feathers before the male drops back down to wade in the swamp. The female picks up the twig and weaves it into the rest of the branches forming the nest.

Nearby another egret is sitting on its nest. The bird stands up on toothpick legs revealing a single blue-green egg. The egret stretches open its wings and preens its feathers. When it is done grooming itself, it sits back down on the egg.

Everywhere you look at this rookery there are dozens of egret and wood stork nests. I can hardly wait to return to see the chicks and hear the cacophony of sounds that must resound in this cypress swamp when hungry chicks call to be fed.

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