Great Egrets at the Santa Rosa Rookery

By far the largest bird in the Santa Rosa Rookery is the Great Egret, and I’ll have to admit — though I know better — that I am always surprised that a bird this large nests in a tree — even if it always seems to be a very tall tree.  

On this visit, one of the highest nests I saw was this Great Egret nest with two chicks.

Great Egret Chicks in nest

That seems like the most logical place for  Great Egrets to have nests since it is easier for them to fly in and out of the nest.

Great Egret leaving tree

However, not all Great Egrets nest at the top of the tree.  For instance, this Great Egret landed near the top but had to weave its way through some awfully tight spaces to reach its destination — 

Great Egret weaving through tree

three hungry chicks that flailed their wings as they mobbed the parent.

Egret Chicks jostling to get fed

So, I end up asking myself why did this egret build the nest so deep within the tree.  Do the dominant Great Egrets get to nest on the top of the tree?  Is it simply a matter of which egret started building a nest first?  Or is there an advantage to having a nest lower in the tree because it defers predators? 

I would love to visit Santa Rosa at the beginning of nesting and see which species start nesting first and where in the tree the first nests are built.  

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