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Photo gallery: Egrets in Tampa Bay

The egret is such a common sight in the Tampa Bay area that many people would likely be surprised to know that these elegant creatures were nearly hunted to extinction in the late 19th century, a victim of their own beautiful plumage, which people coveted as a way to decorate their hats.

Thanks to one of the first bird conservation efforts in U.S. history, the great egret is a thriving species, which is a blessing to nature lovers and photographers, as you can see in this series of images from Times staff photographers.

You can purchase reprints of any of these photos, and view more egret photos, in the Times image archive.

Selected and posted by Tim Rozgonyi