Rescued great white egret released into the wild near West Richland (VIDEO)
The beautiful white Great egrets used to be hard to find, after 95 percent of the population in North America were killed for their plumes to decorate hats in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thankfully the population has recovered since most plume hunting was banned around 1910. Today they are not hard to find if you know where to look. Great egrets can grow to up to almost 41 inches in length and have a wingspan of up to 57 inches, according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Recently near Sunnyside, Washington, Mary Marquez and her husband, Bob were happy to discover that an egret nest had appeared in the trees around one of the three ponds on their property. Mary watched the nest from her house with binoculars everyday, until she finally saw a white fuzzy head pop up. It was a great experience for her. She noticed that the mother egret was also very devoted as she would stand over him with her wings spread, shielding him from the summer sun.
But about three weeks into it Mary noticed that the mother egret did not come back one day. She knew immediately that they had to rescue the baby. It was not going to be an easy feat however as the nest was 40 feet up the tree. But Mary was determined to help this baby and talked a friend to bring over a boom truck. Mary then climbed up to the 40-foot-high nest to try to feed the baby bird. She tried leaving food for the baby but it was too afraid to eat it. Mary then knew she would have to catch the baby and bring him down from the tree if he was to survive.
The next morning, Mary nervously went back up to the nest, this time with a fishing net. She knew that she would only have one chance at netting him, and that the risk was that he might fall out of the nest while trying to escape. Luckily she caught him with the net in one try and was able to bring him down from the tree.
Mary kept the bird for almost five days and fed him. But she soon realized that he was going to need more help than she could provide for him. She then turned him over to Blue Mountain Wildlife preserve in Pendleton, Washington where they cared for him until the day came when they knew he was ready to be returned to the wild.
On that special day, Mary Marquez had the honor of opening the crate the bird had traveled in from Pendleton to the bank of the Yakima River. "He's flying! He's flying!" Mary called out as the bird flew up the river and onto his new life in the wild again.