Everyone loves Google and great egrets and snowy egrets are no exception. Both of these species have decided to use a line of sycamore trees on Shorebird Way to breed between the months of April and September. Great egrets can be identified by their larger size, yellowish-orange bill, and black legs. On the other hand, snowy egrets are smaller, have a black bill, and yellow feet. You can even find some black crowned night herons and a red-shouldered hawk if you look closely. Hint: It is the street covered in whitewash. If you close your eyes it might even sound a little bit like the soundboard from Q*bert, a popular old-school video game.
Why would these birds choose this line of trees? Generations of birds have used these trees when the area was dominated by willow groves and wetlands, long before the Google Campus ever came to be. According to the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, roughly 20% of great egret colonies that are monitored in the San Francisco Bay Area are found here. If you stop by on Thursdays, a table is set up that educates employees and visitors, where you can look through binoculars, scopes, and leave with a fun sticker.
Because the area doesn’t resemble much of a natural habitat for these species, and weaker siblings will get pushed out of the nest and will not be cared for any longer by the parents, the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley will care for the ones that fall. Google does close this street to vehicles to help protect young egrets that may fall. It is pretty amazing to see these birds, considering they were almost hunted to extinction for their feathers that often decorated women’s clothing. The Audubon Society was formed when a conservation movement in 1886 made a stand against the use of their feathers.