Learning the lore of the lores with a Little Egret

Little Egrets are large birds. In a previous century they wouldn’t have been called birds at all, since anything larger than a Blackbird was called a fowl. They are little compared to some other egrets, the Great White Egret being much bigger.

I see a Little Egret fly past, take a grab-shot and process it. Here it is:

Little Egret - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s when I enlarge it (just click on the photo to see it enlarged) that I notice something. Its eye isn’t yellow, it’s grey-blue.

Here’s one with a yellow eye:

Little Egret - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Many birds have eye colour which changes with their age. They start with one eye colour and then, as they become sexually mature, they change to have another eye colour. It looks like Little Egrets start with greyish-blue eyes which become yellow as they mature. That’s cool.

There’s something else I notice. It’s the bare patch of skin between beak and eye. Its technical name is the lore. Since birds have one on both sides, they have lores. It looks like the skin is featherless and tinted with pigment. The one with blue-grey eyes has greyish lores, while the one with yellow eyes has yellow and greenish lores. They’re clearly an important signal.

I decide to check my other photographs and, hold on, what’s this? A Little Egret with red and purple lores. This is an adult in full breeding plumage.

Little Egret - River Teign - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It has two long head plumes. It has gorgeous ornate back plumes. It has red and blue lores. All these changes may be subtle to a human, but they clearly mean a great deal to Little Egrets.

Isn’t life interesting when you notice?

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