Great White Egret at WDWHave you ever been so sure of something that you not only didn’t think to question it, but you acted on it with complete conviction, like belting the lyrics to that song you thought you knew for Karaoke Night? For us, it was the identification of a bird that turned into something far bigger.

Let’s go back in time, shall we? Far, far back to our very first ever visit to Walt Disney World…

First stop: Epcot

We’d never been to Florida before—much less WDW—so we were taking in everything everywhere. On our way from the World Showcase to Future World, we stopped to gaze out at a shallow lagoon (which Amy excitedly assumed was a real life Florida swamp), where an enormous white bird stood poised and motionless in a stalking stance. We’d never seen such a tall bird that wasn’t an ostrich or emu, and we were mesmerized—not only by the bird’s long neck, which could’ve wrapped around a tree trunk and met itself back where it began, but by its state of absolute stillness, its long thin neck outstretched and one leg bent at the knee so as to form a perfect number “4.” We could’ve mistaken it for a Disney lawn ornament had we not caught a hint of movement when we first arrived. We were gripped with curiosity and anticipation.

As we stood as poised and motionless as the subject of our attention, an older gent leaned over the rail beside us, also observing the bird’s intense determination. As the three of us stood there, the man commented that there are a lot of whooping cranes where he lives in Florida.

“Really, that’s a whooping crane?” Amy was incredulous, having only ever heard of them.

“Sure is,” the man in the floral coral-colored shirt affirmed. “All day that’s what they do: stalk shallow-water fish and reptiles. They make those tacky pink flamingos look animated in comparison,” to which we all laughed and the man moved on. We stayed put, waiting for a conclusive lunge. We were relieved when finally it came but without conquest.

When we got to the Magic Kingdom, and specifically Frontierland, we discovered these awesome birds were as prolific as the turkey legs being sold at the nearby cart, and Amy couldn’t put down her camera. The birds were taller than small children and we watched the behavior of both as if we’d just fallen to Earth from another planet.

Back home…

Out of all our vacation photos, it was inescapable how many had cranes in them—of the industrial kind. Between various construction zones and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, we had a whole lot of crane shots! It was then that Amy had the brilliant idea of Photoshopping our whooping crane photos into our crane shots and calling the series “Crane Shots”!

Clever, right?

The only problem was that on our fourth trip to WDW—four years later—we learned that those long lithe birds not only weren’t “whooping” cranes, but: THEY WEREN’T CRANES AT ALL! In fact, they’re great white egrets! And even better, we learned that invaluable fact on Splash Mountain—from the 10-year-old boy and parent-proclaimed bird enthusiast sitting in front of us. Yes, we learned all that on a ride! 

A little iPhone Googling on a bench in Frontierland confirmed the boy’s claim as fact, and for a little while we sat silent and stunned. We had three years of “whooping crane” to correct in our brains, and still, that wasn’t the worst of it: our whole brilliant “Crane Shot” photo pun series was now meaningless!

After that stunning revelation…

Oh sure, we tried to find another clever name that could justify combining egrets with our Disney photos containing cranes, but in the end we agreed it was time to call it quits. Of course, that didn’t mean we couldn’t just drop a great white egret into a Disney photo should inspiration strike, so there was that, but it would never be the double entendre that fueled our creative high spirits.

It’s with relief, release, and complete surrender that we present our favorite photo compositions containing cranes and egrets: