Reflections by the Sea: Great egret

Published 1:45 pm Thursday, February 22, 2024

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By Betsy Ore Glass

Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.1 Peter 2:17 NIV

The great egret is the largest of the white, wading birds found in this area in the wetlands. Moving about on their long black legs gives them the appearance of doing everything in slow motion. Their pointed bills are yellow and that is what they use to spear small fish, which is a main part of their diet. The great egret can either nest in trees or in low shrubs where they live in colonies of up to 100 birds. The word egret is French and it means “ornamental tufts of plumes.” When the great egret is in breeding season they will grow a plume. It was the plume that hunters sought after that nearly put the great egret into extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Fortunately, they are now protected and can be seen enjoying life in large numbers. When I see a great egret, there are certain words that come to mind like graceful, elegant, polite and poised. They behave as though they have impeccable manners to go with their majestic appearance! The great egret is in complete contrast to the noisy gull that shows his greed without remorse. I prefer the elegance of the great egret!

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Is our behavior more like the great egret or the noisy gull? How would the people we live and work with describe us? Should we be afraid of the answer! The formality that our grandparents once lived by that promoted respect, kindness, manners and courtesy seems to be fading away in favor of an unrestricted casualness. Gone are the Sunday hats and gloves our grandmothers wore to church. And that may be a welcomed change for some. But more importantly, also gone are some of the basic values we once lived by of being polite, putting others first and showing respect. Is the way we behave and the way we treat others something that would please God? The lady at the grocery checkout counter would appreciate a kind word. So would all of the many people that we come in contact with each day, but don’t think to speak kindly to … if we speak at all! Sometimes there is a tendency to be less than courteous to someone we know we may never see again. God says that everyone deserves our respect, whether it is earned or not. Our actions say a lot about our character. Our children and grandchildren are learning from our example and they will follow our lead. One smile, one random act of kindness, a show of respect can make someone’s day. It can make our day, too.

Betsy Ore Glass has long-standing ties to the Outer Banks. From Virginia Beach, her family bought a vacation cottage in the 60s and her love of the area began. Later in the 90s, Betsy and her husband bought a weekend cottage and introduced the area to their children. Then Betsy’s parents retired to KDH where the family gathered often. Reach her at or read additional Reflections at