In the Audobon Society’s Smith Oaks Sanctuary at High Island, Texas, the egrets are about three weeks into the mating season (as of the end of the first week in April). By now, most males and females have paired up and built their nests. Many females are already sitting on eggs, though no chicks have yet hatched out. Unpaired males are beginning to despair. A shortage of females has caused them to try to steal already paired females away from their mates. The male in the foreground returned to his nest to find an interloper (background). With a fury of wing flapping and pecking with his beak, he sent the interloper fleeing.

Taken with the Nikon D4 and 800mm with 1.4x telextender. Effective aperture f8. Shutter speed 1/5000th.