Snowy Egret Feather Shake (Photo of the week)

A snowy egret shakes back and forth, rufflings its feathers.

This week’s photo is a snowy egret just after shaking his body to resettle its feathers. He had been fishing along the bank of a slough, and the wind kept disturbing his feathers. He shook his body vigorously to fluff all of his feathers, so that they could resettle into a natural insulating layer.

This type of shake will rearrange the micro-structure of a bird’s outer feathers, keeping water from penetrating the inner feathers. Usually a resettling of the feathers if followed by preening and a little oiling (if the bird has a preen gland). This egret didn’t bother preening at this time, as he seemed very focused on catching dinner.

Dowitcher At Sunset (Photo of the week)

A dowitcher wades through shallow water, looking for food just before sunset, Baylands, Palo Alto, California

I photographed this dowitcher just as the last light of the day was hitting the marsh. He was busy with dinner, but paused long enough for me to create a portrait. I like this shot because it shows some of the bird’s habitat along with the entire body. Although crisp bird portraits with blurred backgrounds of solid color look great, sometimes we strive to isolate the subject from its habitat just a little too much.