San Diego Creature Snowy Egret

Have you ever seen paintings of ladies, sultans, or military officers with white fluffy feathers on their heads? Where do they come from?

San Diego Creature Snowy Egret feathered hats
Snowy Egret feathers in hats.

Some of these kinds of feathers can be seen on a creature found in San Diego called the Snowy Egret. In the early twentieth century, the Snowy Egret was hunted for their long breeding plumes, or feathers. It was fashionable for ladies to wear the feathers on their hats. Aigrettes, or a headdress consisting of white egret’s feathers, studded with diamonds and rubies, also decorated the turbans of Ottoman sultans or the ceremonial chamfron. A chamfron is the protective armor worn on a horse’s head. An aigrette also used to be worn by certain ranks of officers in the French army.

Adult Snowy Egrets are entirely white apart from the yellow lores (the region between the eyes and nostrils of birds, reptiles, and amphibians.) between the long black bill and the eye, black legs, and bright yellow feet. The nape and neck bear long, shaggy plumes known as aigrettes. Young snowy egrets have duller, greenish legs.

These beautiful birds eat fish, crustaceans, insects, small reptiles, snails, frogs, worms and crayfish. They catch their food in shallow water, usually running fast, or sprinting after schools of minows. Snowy egrets may also stand still and wait to ambush prey. 

Now protected in the United States by law, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, this bird’s population has come back and is now listed as being of “least concern.”

San Diego Creature Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) an entirely white apart bird from the yellow lores between the long black bill and the eye, black legs, and bright yellow feet. At the Southern Wildlife Preserve San Diego River, San Diego, CA, USA.

We found this Snowy egret on the bank of the San Diego River near the Southern Wildlife Preserve.

San Diego Creature Snowy Egret County Map
San Diego County sightings map.
Snowy Egret San Diego creature map
Detail of San Diego Creature Map.

San Diego Creature Snowy Egret Stats

Common Name: Snowy Egret
Latin Name: Egretta thula

Description: Adult snowy egrets are entirely white apart from the yellow lores between the long black bill and the eye, black legs, and bright yellow feet. The nape and neck bear long, shaggy plumes known as aigrettes. Immature snowy egrets have duller, greenish legs.

Size: 22.1-26.0 in (56-66 cm)

Weight: 13.1 oz (370 g) 

Wingspan: 39.4 in (100 cm)

Habitat: wetlands of many types; marshes, riverbanks, lakesides, pools, salt marshes and estuaries.

Fascinating Fact: They were once hunted for their feathers.

Status: Least concern
International Union for Conservation of Nature 

Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Egretta
Species: E. thula


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The San Diego Creature Project is an animated children’s program created by kids, for kids. Follow three brothers, their cousin, and their dog Ryan as they solve creature mysteries with science and learn about life in Southern California.


Sources:

Knopf, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, 1997. p.369
https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/4940-Egretta-thula (Retrieved 01SEP2020)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snowy_egret (Retrieved 01SEP2020)
https://birdsoftheworld.org/bow/species/snoegr/cur/introduction (Retrieved 01SEP2020)
https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22696974/93595536 (Retrieved 01SEP2020)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aigrette (Retrieved 01SEP2020)
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). “Aigrette“. Encyclopædia Britannica. 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 436
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/snowy-egret (Retrieved 02SEP2020)
https://eol.org/traitbank (Retrieved 02SEP2020)
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Snowy_Egret/id (Retrieved 02SEP2020)

Inchworms on the Tomato Plants

Inchworms San Diego creature project

Wow, Those Inchworms Eat a Lot of Leaves

Inchworms San Diego creature project
Inchworms on wood chips.

In early June we found a few inchworms on the sage plants. Then we notice that the basil was being eaten. Then we noticed that the baby tomato plants were really being eaten… some plants didn’t make it.

Of course we decided to research them and figure out what species of insect they are. Did you know that in inchworm isn’t a worm, it’s a caterpillar!

After scowering the internet, we still weren’t sure what kind these inchworms were. Since they’re caterpillars we knew they go through a process called metamorphosis. A metamorphosis is a change of form or character. It’s when a caterpillar changes to a moth or butterfly.

Of course, we decided to keep them in a terrarium, and fed them juicy leaves. They ate a lot of leaves and pooped a lot! We had to change the terrarium every day to keep it clean for them.

One day they formed cocoons, and then we waited, and waited, and waited to see what they turn into.

Tune in to find out!

The San Diego Creature Project is a children’s television program created by kids, for kids. Follow three brothers, their cousin, and their dog Ryan as they solve creature mysteries with science and learn about life in Southern California.

Curious about a butterfly or moth? You can go to Butterflies & Moths of North America and find out more.

National Moth Week Kids Coloring Pages

Moth Coloring Pages

We’re Celebrating National Moth Week 2020 with Kids Coloring Pages!

Yep, National Moth Week 2020 from July 18 to July 26. But you can download these free kids coloring pages anytime. Go to the Leirigh Films store for the Moth Coloring Pages!

Moth Coloring Pages
Moth Coloring Pages

They feature five different moths that can be found in San Diego.

  • Achemon Sphinx, a large, heavy-bodied moth with a wing span of about 3.5 inches (9 cm). The forewings are pinkish/brown with a squarish dark spot along the edge, while the hindwings are mostly pink, with brownish markings along the edges.
  • Mexican Tiger Moth, a small moth with a wing span of about 0.78 inches (2 cm). They have geometric black shapes on their creamy white wings.
  • Five-spotted Hawkmoth, with a wingspan of up to 5 5/16 inches (13.5 cm) this is a big moth.  On their abdomen they have five, sometimes six, pairs of yellow bands.
  • Western Sheepmoth, are highly variable with yellow-orange to cream to pink with black markings. They have a wingspan of up to 3 7/16 inches (8.7 cm).
  • Polyphemus Moth, another large moth with a wingspan of up to 5 7/8 inches (15 cm). Their upperside is reddish to yellowish brown with some parts pink, or black and pink. Clear oval eyespots are ringed with yellow, blue, and black.

Go to the Leirigh Films store to download the Moth Coloring Pages for FREE!

Creature Project: Inchworms on the Tomato Plants

Curious about a butterfly or moth? You can go to Butterflies & Moths of North America and find out more.

For more information on National Moth Week 2020.


Follow Us to Find Out More Cool Creature Stuff!

The San Diego Creature Project is an animated children’s program created by kids, for kids. Follow three brothers, their cousin, and their dog Ryan as they solve creature mysteries with science and learn about life in Southern California.


 

San Diego Creature Project