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jerry jackson
Photographed by Bette Jackson

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Source: Egrets 1

Length of Segment: 00:01:11

Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Among the most beautiful of birds are herons and egrets. There's no great distinction between them, though most egrets are white, and most herons are not. The term 'egret' comes from the French word 'aigrette' A-I-G-R-E-T-T-E, a word that refers especially to the long filamentous feathers that seems to cascade down an egret's back during the breeding season like a beautiful veil. Egret feathers are used in the bird's elaborate courtship displays, and were almost their undoing. In the late-1800s, ladies' fashions included use of egrets on hats and other apparel. For awhile, egret feathers were literally worth their weight in gold. Plume hunters entered nesting colonies, killing thousands of the birds, leaving eggs and chicks to die. Egret populations plummeted. Public sentiment came to the side of the birds and the controversy gave birth to a conservation movement that included formation of the National Association of Audubon Societies and passage of laws to protect the birds. Florida, with its vast swamplands and rich bird life, was at the heart of the controversy.

'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.

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