Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cow Surfin'

Surfing requires balance, patience and lack of fear. You're going to wipe out and when you do you have to paddle back out and catch the next wave. I have no idea what I'm talking about since I've never really surfed. But you get an idea watching cattle egrets riding the bovine wave across the saw grass prairies in the Everglades.

Yeah - there's cows in the Everglades.

I can't vouch for surfers, but I'd guess riding the cow is just as tough, if not tougher. You have no idea where the cow's going and they have a mean whip for a tail. While hiking out in the Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest just to the southwest of Lake Okeechobee we watched a small herd tromping through the marsh, seemingly ambivalent to the Cattle Egrets riding their spine. The cow strolled through the grass and the birds rode the undulations as if on a roller coaster. Egret #3 hopped on and enjoyed a 2 second thrill before being slapped across the face by the tail. I may be expressing anthropomorphication, if for nothing more than to spell out such a long word, but truly because the bird looked embarrassed by being tossed from the ride.

Why in fact were they riding the bovine? They didn't seem to be feeding. They can certainly fly from here to there. I can only assume they're having fun. Or simply irritating the cows. Which might still be for fun.

While cows are not native to Florida, neither are Cattle Egrets. They have rafted across the Atlantic in the last century from Africa where their ancestors no doubt still cow surf.

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