Collecting Nesting Material - The Innovative Cattle Egret Approach
in·no·va·tive - adjective - 1. (of a product, idea, etc.) featuring new methods; advanced and original.
synonyms: original, new, novel, fresh, unusual, unprecedented, inventive, ingenious, creative; advanced, modern, state-of-the-art, pioneering, groundbreaking, revolutionary, radical, newfangled.
Often I have watched birds of different species gather nesting material by grabbing, pulling, twisting and in other ways trying to loosen or break twigs on shrubs or loose material on the ground near a rookery. Recently I observed a different technique at a rookery in Louisiana. A number of Cattle Egrets collected nesting material by sitting on a perch above the water (photos 1-2) and waited for the Winds of Fortune to blow acceptable material within reaching distance (photos 3-5 ) of the perch, or close enough that only a short flight was required to acquire it (remaining photos ). Not all Cattle Egrets were engaged in this activity; many were using the more energy consuming (?) "standard" technique of collecting nesting material on the ground in areas near the rookery.
Of course, I don't know if the birds I saw were being innovative. Perhaps this method of gathering material for a nest has been in use for centuries. But this was the first time I observed it. If you have additional information about what I observed, please send an email message. Once noticed, observing the behavior was not as difficult as obtaining a good light angle for capturing it photographically.
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