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Bitterns, Herons, Egrets, Ibis and Storks

Wading Birds of the Florida Everglades

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Bitterns, Herons, Egrets, Ibis and Storks

Everglades National Park

NPS
Bitterns, Herons, Egrets, Ibis and Storks are all wading birds, most of which have long and thin legs, necks and bills. There is a large selection of different species of wading birds, also called waders, living in the Florida Everglades. Get a glimpse of what wading birds you might see when you visit Everglades National Park.

Learn more about what there is to see and do at Everglades National Park.

HERONS

Herons are long-legged freshwater and coastal birds. They sit perfectly still in the shallow water and wait for prey to come by. They feed on a wide variety of aquatic animals, including fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks and insects. However, the Yellow-crowned Night Heron specializes in crustaceans.

The Green Heron, also called the Green-backed Heron, is commonly found in the Everglades, and is smaller than most herons. It is lightning-quick when catching prey, and prefers to hunt alone. The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the North American heron, and lives in the sawgrass habitat. It spears its prey with its long, sharp beak.

Other herons you may spot in the Everglades include the Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, and the Black-crowned Night Heron.

Find out more about the Black-crowned Night Heron, from the About.com Guide to Birding.

BITTERNS

The American Bittern and Least Bittern are part of the heron family, but have much shorter legs and necks than their cousins. They fly with their necks retracted, live in marshy areas, and feed on amphibians, reptiles, insects, and fish.

EGRETS

Egrets are also part of the heron family, but are usually white or buff in color. The Great Egret is the second-largest heron. It is often mistakenly identified as the Great White Heron, but you can tell it apart by its dark black legs and feet.

The Snowy Egret is smaller than the Great Egret and has a black bill and yellow feet. The beautiful white plumes of the Snowy Egret were once in great demand for use in women's hats, greatly reducing the population. Thankfully, the population has rebounded.

Other egrets you may spot in the Everglades include the Cattle Egret and the Reddish Egret.

IBIS

The White Ibis is the most common wading bird found in the Everglades. It is also the mascot of the University of Miami, selected because of its legendary bravery during hurricanes. The story goes that the ibis is the last to take shelter before a hurricane, and the first to appear after the storm. It has a long, slender, curved beak which it uses to probe the mud, searching for crayfish.

The Scarlet Ibis is the national bird of Trinidad. The juvenile is gray and white, but its diet of crustaceans eventually changes its coloring. Adults are a bright, scarlet red color, with black wing tips. Other ibis you may spot in the Everglades include the White-faced Ibis, and the Glossy Ibis.

The Roseate Spoonbill is also a member of the Ibis family. These bright pink birds are often mistaken for flamingos, but you can tell them apart by the distinctive bill, which is wide, flat, and rounded at the end – like a spoon.

Find out more about the Roseate Spoonbill, from the About.com Guide to Birding.

STORKS

The Wood Stork is a very large wading bird, and listed on the endangered species list. It is the only stork that currently breeds in North America. It finds food by shuffling its feet, while holding its beak underwater. When a fish tries to swim away and bumps into the beak, the bird snatches it up in a fraction of a second.

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