Herons & Photogs & Poets, O My!

Confrontation, conflict and contentiousness have been dominating the news cycle of late, but that doesn’t mean cooperation and collaboration have disappeared from the face of the earth.

One of my favorite on-going collaborations has been with photographer Judy Lovell. In the days following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, she graciously allowed me to use her portrait of Plato the Pelican to help send a message to British Petroleum.

Earlier this week, realizing that none of the blue, green, black-crowned or yellow-crowned herons perched in my photo files would do as an illustration for one of my poems, I got in touch with Judy again. Telling her I wasn’t certain I could scare up another bird to model for me on such short notice, I asked if I might use one of her lovely egrets. Amused, she said I was more than welcome to use the image, although the “egret” I’d chosen actually was a white heron. 

My confusion was understandable. Great white herons are a white color-phase of great blue herons, and they bear a remarkable resemblance to egrets. Beyond that, they’re found only in the Florida Keys, so I’ve probably never seen one in the wild.

After their population was decimated by fashionistas demanding their elegant feathers for hats and such, the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge was created to protect the population. Like the brown pelican in Texas, they’ve been brought back from the brink of extinction, and people like Judy have the privilege of observing and recording their lives. Continue reading