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Photo: Great egret lifts off from the lake

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Well hello, gorgeous.

While we may be more familiar with images of these stately waders standing still in the water or slicing through the air like an art deco airplane, there's something to be said for seeing a great egret actually taking off for flight ... animal architecture at its finest.

We are lucky that we can still admire these beauties. In the late 1800s, great egrets were nearly hunted into extinction for their plumes which were used in fashion. Thankfully, early conservationists were able to stop the slaughter and successfully protect them, leading to the great egret's selection as the symbol of the National Audubon Society.

Photo: Sam McMillan

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