Spanish Moss once grew abundantly in the cities and countrysides of southern Louisiana. A few generations ago, this moss was commonly used by Cajuns for stuffing mattresses and upholstered furniture and, when mixed with mud, as construction material. Although the increase in human population and associated activities ultimately decreased its abundance in cities, the moss still grows thickly on many trees in cypress-tupelo swamps in the region. The above photo shows a Great Egret perched among Spanish Moss hanging from a tree at the edge of Lake Martin.
This bird apparently felt comfortable enough for me to snap several photographs from the trail on the levee surrounding the lake. At first its back was turned toward me, but later it turned around for a better portrait.
The ability of the Great Egret to fold and unfold its neck when at rest fascinates me. In the above photos, the bird’s neck is folded into three sections. The lower part of its neck almost looks like a looped growth attached to the bottom of its breast, and its upper neck seems to grow out of the top of its breast. This is certainly different from the long, gracefully extended neck seen in photos of these birds foraging.
Not all the trees in Lake Martin are moss-covered—the rookery area of the lake consists of trees practically devoid of moss. It was late January, so several of the Great Egrets were in those trees, busily preening and apparently starting to build nests for the upcoming breeding season. It was overcast and the rookery is rather distant from the levee road, so it was difficult to got a good shot of them. Here is the best I could do.
The locations from which these photos were taken are shown on the map below. Zoom in for more detail.