We came upon this standoff on our way back from the beach this morning, at the very same spot we found this alligator a few days ago.
So here’s just a hypothetical question: If you were an egret on a small patch of dirt (which from now on will be known as Gator Island) surrounded by water and wetlands, and you happened to notice an alligator with its mouth ajar right next to you, would you:
a) Get the @#%! out of there. Fast.
b) Back away slowly. Then get the @#%! out of there. Fast.
c) Groom yourself?
This bird did not move one inch. It looked at the gator, then groomed itself. Then it groomed itself some more.
A number of theories have been floated about its odd behavior. Maybe the alligator was so still, the egret did not notice it. (I do have several photos of the bird looking straight at the gator, but looking and noticing are two different things.) Maybe the bird knew it could get away faster than the alligator could snatch it. Maybe the alligator was unaware of his advantage in the Jaws & Teeth department, and was afraid the bird would peck his eyes out if he tried to snatch it from the wrong angle. Maybe the alligator was not hungry at all. Maybe he just wanted to lie in the sun a bit and was trying to tell the bird -rather rudely- to scoot over. Of course, the bird -rather rudely- was actively ignoring his request.
We did not stick around to find out if the egret became early lunch or the alligator went hungry. Or maybe, just maybe, they enjoyed some quality time in the sun together.