| STORY BY LAURA KIRAN |
If you are fortunate enough to see the gracefulness of a great egret in person, you can thank early conservation efforts. Some of the first laws to protect birds centered around this tall, balletic bird, which was hunted close to extinction in the late 19th century. The great egret was targeted for its pristinely white plumes, which were in high demand as adornments to the current fashions of the time. These plumes were so popular that they were at one time worth twice their weight in gold.
While other species of birds were also widely hunted for the feather trade, the great egret was among the most sought after and its populations subsequently dwindled. Luckily, hunting and trade regulations brought about by preservationists in the early 1900s led to the protection of the great egret’s colonies and its numbers eventually rebounded.
A conservation success story, the great egret was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society.