This egret failed to swallow the gopher on its first attempt. It took about 9 minutes to completely swallow the large gopher that it caught. This video condenses the struggle to about 3 minutes. It doesn’t show the last 3 minutes where the bird mainly still and rested from the struggle. It used gravity very well to help move the gopher towards its stomach.
According to National Geographic, Great blue herons have been known to choke to death by attempting to swallow fish too large for their long, S-shaped necks. The link is at
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/great-blue-heron. I have found no reports of an egret. choking on prey. However, I can easily imagine that this could happen after watching this one struggle to squeeze the big gopher down its skinny neck!
You may notice that there are marks on the egret’s extended neck as it stretches its neck skyward to help swallow the gopher. These marks on the birds plumage may be do the the appendages of the gopher pushing outwards trough the tightened throat skin of the egret.
I filmed this event on March 15, 2012 at Miller Knox Regional Park in Pt. Richmond, CA, along the San Francisco Bay Trail after several days of heavy rains. Two days later, in the same area, I filmed a Great Blue Heron catching 4 gophers in a row! You can watch that video at http://youtu.be/naElLC53tVs. The gophers may have been more vulnerable than usual due to partial flooding of their burrows after the recent rains.
I used a Panasonic GH2 camera to capture the footage.