Wading Birds

CSS PI Green Heron
Allyson L. Webb

Green heron in alligator flag in restored marsh on Panther Island

Corkscrew Swamp Sanactuary provides ideal habitat for numerous wading bird species. What, one might ask, is a wading bird? This term is used to discribe a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors but all have some key characteristics in common. First, they have long, thin legs and agile toes that help them navigate and maintain stability while foraging  in the muddier waters and flowing currents. Second, they often have long bills with varying specialized shapes (ex. roseate spoonbill vs. white ibis) for different foraging strategies. Third, the necks of wading birds are typically long but powerful. A minute shift in their posture can improve angle, view, and camouflage when searching for prey. And finally, the larger wading birds (ex. great egrets, great blue herons) typically dvelop beautiful plumes during breeding season while smaller wading birds (ex. green heron) become even more crypticly colored. All of these fabulous animals rely on wetlands for foraging, breeding, roosting, or some other part of their ecology.

Corkscrew is home to 17 species of wading birds, and these can be broken down into even smaller categories.

Copyright  2013 National Audubon Society, Inc