Potlicking Cattle Egrets in Robertsdale, Alabama
On a recent morning, I woke early and couldn't get back to sleep. Not to lose out on a great morning I decided to get some early morning shots of hummingbirds in the garden. However, it was a slow morning with the hummingbirds and I was just about to give up for the morning when I saw a flock of cattle egrets scouring the field in the backyard for rodents, frogs, and insects. The field was stirred up the day before by the farmer that tends the field. The cattle egret were taking advantage of any displaced rodents or injured small animals.
Observing the cattle egret behavior that morning, I couldn't help but think they act like weekend warrior anglers "potlicking" each other. In fishing terms, a potlicker is someone who watches intently other boats to see if they are catching fish. They then position their boats to inside the casting distance of the boat catching fish, usually spooking the schooling fish in the process. Everyone on the water watches what other boats are doing, but the potlicker takes things to a whole new level of fishing etiquette breach. I have observed well mannered adult men lose their Christianity for a few moments over potlickers.
Back to the egrets, they may look all friendly to each other as they mostly stay in big groups. That is just a facade. Cattle egrets are mean and vicious to each other. When an egret finds something, they have to swallow it quickly otherwise they will get chased by other egrets. In the pictures below you will see one egret that found a frog too big to swallow whole. It's "buddies" started to chase it all over the field. It looked like they were playing keep away. I have come to the conclusion cattle egrets are potlickers. Considering how widespread they are throughout the world, I would say this behavior has served them well.
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