Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Personality Portraits: Cattle Egrets

One thing I have noticed while photographing birds over the past couple of years is that, like people, different birds quite often seem to exhibit different personalities.

Sometimes this is a reflection of mannerisms and vocalizations, other times it is simply a side effect of distinguishing markings or other physical characteristics. But once you begin to closely study a group of birds, it is quite easy to realize that not all birds — even of the same species — look and act the same. Of course, it is also a little too easy sometimes to begin to assign human "personality traits" to birds and animals, simply because of their different looks.

Take for instance this group of Cattle Egrets that I spent some time photographing a few weeks back. Looking back through my photos of the day, they each quickly stood out as a unique persona.

There was the cool bird, fit and trim, full of self-confidence:

Cattle Egret - 6/3/2009

There was the cranky old codger with what seemed a permanent scowl on his face:

Cattle Egret - 6/3/2009

There was the quiet loner who stayed off by himself, meekly blending into the background:

Cattle Egret - 6/3/2009

And then there was the tall, wide-eyed, gangly, gawky one — his hair never quite lying straight — who tried but just never quite fit in with the "cool" kids. You know, kind of a birdy version of me back in high school:

Cattle Egret - 6/3/2009

Of course, in reality all of these birds acted pretty much the same, too busy hunting for nourishment in the heat of a dry Texas summer to reveal much real personality. But that's part of the magic of photography: it can take a simple moment in time and feed the imagination into whatever wondrous revelations the mind can create.

For more great bird photos from around the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly #53.

Bird Photography Weekly


Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I enjoyed the personality traits you saw in each of these neat birds. I thought I was the only one that did that. I was told that assigning feelings to animals was unscientific. So be it. It helps me to connect to them and makes me smile!

Kelly said...

I love watching cattle egrets. The color combination is pleasing. I'm with Lynne....and you! I see human personality traits in birds and animals all the time. It's fun! (Beautiful photographs...)