During the breeding seasons, great egrets grow long plumes on their backs called aigrettes. I took this shot on May 27, 2014, at the Audubon Society’s Smith Oaks Rookery at High Island, Texas. Although the mating season is nearly over in late May, the mother was still sitting on eggs and preening aigrettes. These plumes were the bane of egrets in the late nineteenth century. The species was almost hunted to extinction because the plumes were prized for ladies’ hats.

This photo was taken with the Nikon D4S, 800mm Nikkor and 2x teleconverter.