Belly full, this Cattle Egret makes a sweeping entrance through the trees to her nest and three hungry chicks whom she will soon be feeding. She has her wings up to start the braking process and then will pull up and drop her toes on a skinny, but sturdy enoug,h branch to absorb her landing energy without breaking. The ruckus of the chicks will start immediately -- fighting over who will be first to get a beak full. It can sometimes get very violent.
The Cattle Egret is a recent arrival into the U.S. -- being brought from the Old World in the 1940's to help protect cattle from parasites, but colonies had no natural predators and grew rapidly here. This picture is a the rookery at Oschner Island in Audubon Park of New Orleans.