The Snowy Egrets are sexually mature in 2 years. Their breeding period is from March to July at which time they develop long lacy feathers on their backs, necks, and breasts. These feathery plumbs are called "aigrettes" and were once prized for fashion accessories especially for women's hats. During courtship rituals the snowy egrets display this "breeding plumage" to attract a mate.
A mate is chosen...
The male gathers sticks while the female builds their nest. This was quite an ambitious stick choice.
Copulation occurs at the nest.
The female lays 3 to 4 eggs and both adults incubate them for 2-3 weeks. For reasons I do not understand, the pair does not recognize one another at the nest. Therefore when a mate approaches the nest an elaborate greeting ceremony must be performed first by raising the plumbs on his head, and then bowing to the sitting bird. Once identified, the nesting bird leaves the nest for its mate to take over.
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