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      The Nature Report: Great Egrets

      A lone roseate spoonbill serves sentinel to the sunrise, perched atop a gnarled mesquite in the predawn light.

      Soon, its mate joins the vigil.

      As the sun steadily climbs, the birds begin to stir on Green Island.

      In the soft light of early morning spoonbills preen their pinkish plumage.

      A pair of great blue herons soaks up the sun, while nearby two great egrets use their rapier like bills to maintain their dazzling feathers.

      Almost all the colonial waterbirds have now arrived on Green Island, and none is more elegant than the great egret with its flowing white feathers.

      The great egrets are beginning to pair up, and when one returns with nest material it is greeted with an excited stretch of the neck and impressive ruffling of feathers.

      Soon, they will begin laying eggs, and in about a month the young will hatch.

      As the morning sky turns azure, a spoonbill gazes out with its bright reddish eye over the Laguna Madre before using its spatula shaped bill for a little feather maintenance.

      But the magnificent breeding plumage of the great egrets beckons.

      Their delicate cloak of feathers tapers down their backs as the lacy plumes sway in the gentle breeze.

      Throughout the morning they come and go from their chosen nest site, and every arrival is greeted with feathery enthusiasm.

      It is peak nesting season on Green Island, and each day TMs sunrise brings promise of stunning beauty.