Happy Alligator Means Happy Snowy
As I mentioned previously, an alligator actively feeding in the salt marsh will often attract hungry snowy egrets. The alligator gets the panicky fish to jump around in all directions, including right out of the water, and that means the snowys reap the benefits.
Here, one lucky little egret shows off his prize. Snowball walked his fish over to some floating reeds which are a few feet away from the water. The idea with that technique is that should the frenzied snowy drop his squirming fish (and they frequently do) it can’t swim away if it doesn’t drop back into water. Smart little birds. 🙂
I recently witnessed an alligator/egret feeding frenzy. The gators were plunging and rolling while a host of snowies and great egrets, along with a few green herons and little blue herons hung around opportunistically feeding on the small fish that disturbed the duckweed covering the lake surface. One behavior that was new to me was great egrets snagging fish while on the wing. They would swoop from their lotus pad or patch of water hyacinth, snag the fish and then land back on a pad or the hyacinth. The snowies stuck to the shallow water. The largest gators were bellowing and arching to try to establish their dominance and drive off the smaller gators. That effort wasn’t too successful since the feeding was too good. It was quite a show for 45 minutes or so.
It really is an amazing sight isn’t it?! Most people don’t realize or even think it’s possible that birds will actually be attracted to actively feeding alligators. Also interesting that the alligators, while involved in their feeding, will basically ignore the birds.
I’m also glad you mentioned that part about the fishing techniques employed by birds such as egrets. I was telling someone nearby me that day to take notice of that because here you have wading birds with the ability to completely alter the method they use to fish. They are specifically built to fish in a certain way yet they can if required, use that fly, swoop, and grab method. Some were almost fishing raptor style, grabbing a fish near the surface without landing, fishing as you say, ‘on the wing’.
Incredible to witness.
Thanks very much for looking here and commenting!
Great pictures! I can almost imagine it’s eating it 🙂
Thanks very much! These snowys sure are quick and smart little herons.
Love watching the egrets fish and swallow their catch that looks a bit larger than their heads…Love your photo series.
Usually, birds like the snowys only catch and eat fairly small fish so it’s fun to see one struggle with a larger catch. These little egrets are amazing.
It never fails to impress, the way that animals and birds can adapt their feeding methods to different conditions! They are far more intelligent than we humans give them credit for!
You are correct they sure are smart! It never fails to amaze me when I see an animal do something outside of it’s instinctual nature simply because it figured out a better way.
Beautiful set and great info, Phil. Thanks!
Oh thanks very much so glad you liked seeing the Snowball in action!
Great capture for him and you, Phil. 🙂
Really? That’s it?! Nothing about the poor sad little fishy face? 😥 And here I was thinking this might push you over the edge.
Ha! Ok, just kidding, thanks for checking these out Sylvia. 😆
Just shows how hard hearted I’ve become, Phil. I’m even having fish for dinner tonight, battered but without eyes. 😜
Well… so it goes in nature. Fish dinner sounds like a good idea, and leaving off the face is a smart plan. 🙂
Snowy doesn’t worry about the fishy face.