Almost eradicated by the millinery trade, the Great Egret and their smaller cousin the Snowy Egret were easy targets as they nest in rookeries. These elegant wading birds sport brilliant white plumage with gossamer wisps of feather that become more prominent during mating season. Theses nuptial plumes, also called aigrettes, fetched $32 an ounce in 1915, which was also the price of gold then. It was not until the conservation movement persuaded governments in the US and elsewhere to pass legislation protecting non-game birds that populations eventually began to recover. I’m so grateful that I was able to study, photograph and then ultimately draw this rendition of an innocent creature that could very easily have vanished in a blink of an eye.