Great Egret Swallowing Sunfish at Sequoyah Refuge

On July 22, I captured some incredible photographs of a Great Egret at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. The images show this bird swallowing a very large sunfish whole!

Great Egret Swallows Huge Sunfish
Great Egret Swallows Huge Sunfish

Great Egrets typically eat smaller prey like frogs, small fish, and insects compared to the larger meals taken by Great Blue Herons. But the sunfish this Egret swallowed was clearly larger than what I’ve seen them catch before. I photograph Great Egrets frequently at the refuge, and they usually go after more reasonably sized meals. While not exactly dainty birds, Great Egrets do seem to stick to smaller prey items than their cousins, the Great Blue Heron.

Great Egret Downs Large Sunfish
Great Egret Downs Large Sunfish

The Great Blue Heron is well known for swallowing very large fish and prey. If I had to choose between photographing Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons, I’d pick the Great Blue Heron any day. You just never know when you’ll catch them swallowing something truly massive!

I captured these photos at an area of the wildlife refuge called Lower Scarborough, which is right next to Miner’s Cove on the west side of the auto tour road. To reach it, you take a right at the four corners intersection, then pass Miner’s Cove on the left. Go a short distance more and you’ll reach the Lower Scarborough area.

I had my camera on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup truck to stabilize it while I photographed this Great Egret’s impressive catch. What an exciting encounter! I feel lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to photograph this Egret pushing the limits of its usual prey size. Just another memorable day in the life of a wildlife photographer!

Equipment Used:

  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: Canon RF 800

Technical Details: First Photo

  • Location: Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge (Oklahoma)
  • Date and Time Taken: July 22, 2021 (08:14 A. M.)
  • Program Mode: Manual
  • Aperture: f11
  • Shutter speed: 1/1250
  • ISO: 2000 (Auto)
  • Exp. Comp.: 0
  • Focal Length: 800 mm

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Great Egret With A Large Shad