Late yesterday afternoon I looked out back from my kitchen window and saw a a large snowy white egret at the shoreline of the lake leaning way forward towards the right almost frozen in place . Off to the right, about 20 feet away, was a mother duck with seven or eight tiny newborn ducklings all pressed together next to her looking like a single fur-ball. She also seemed frozen facing the egret, Her posture seemed to say “Go ahead – – just try!”
Like a stalking cat the egret slowly took a step closer and froze in place again. The duck didn’t move. About 30 seconds later the egret moved another step closer. Another 30 seconds or so – another step. The duck still unmoving.
It was obvious that the egret was going to attack soon, and that the mother duck was over matched. The egret then could have as many of the ducklings as it wanted. The little ones are conditioned not to leave the mother and, if left alone, not to move until the mother returns.
I was not going to permit any carnage in my back yard. I went and pulled open the sliding glass door to the patio, which is normally enough to chase an egret. But its concentration on the prey was not affected. In fact, it took another step closer to the ducks.
I went to the screen door, opened it, stepped outside and slammed the door. Amazingly, the egret didn’t move. I suppose the prospect of dinner was too enticing. But when I started walking toward it I got its attention. After three steps it took off, landing in the back yard three houses away, where it stopped facing back at my yard.
Momma duck wasted no time hustling her tiny charges into the lake and safety. Off they paddled in the opposite direction. The egret was going to have to look elsewhere for dinner.