“Be a Good Girl and Drag Your Feet…”

Juvenile Great Egret dragging her foot in salt marsh pool

Why is Edith the Juvenile Great Egret dragging her left foot?

Not just for fun—although I sure liked to play in the mud as a child.

I’m pretty sure Edith is doing this in order to stir up some snacks among the insects, small crustaceans, tadpoles and other Egret-edibles lurking in this salt marsh pool.

To be sure, I’m speculating. I’ve read that the Snowy Egret does this with its bright yellow feet—flitting above the surface as it stirs up the waters. And I’ve photographed this behavior often enough. Here’s a mature Snowy Egret, about the same size as a Juvenile Great Egret, dragging its left foot just like Edith:

Mature Snowy Egret dragging left foot to stir up prey.
This adult Snowy Egret is exhibiting what appears to be the exact same feeding behavior as the Juvenile Great Egret featured above.

You can see why I’m tempted to conclude the two birds are up to the same thing!

But I’ve yet to read that baby Great Egrets actually use this strategy. And when Edith is grown, her feet will be black and she’ll be spear-fishing for bigger fry.


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