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Small Bird With Long Legs: 25 Names Of Birds With Long Legs

Long, powerful legs come in handy for a lot of birds. The long-legged bird has evolved this way for a purpose. It lets them run quickly to catch small prey or flee from predators. Swifts have the longest legs relative to the body size of all birds, while bustards have the most massive ones.

Pelicans and flamingos get around by walking on their extremely long legs, but other birds like storks and herons use them for wading through water rather than running on land. Some species of gulls even have webbed feet that help propel them through the water as they hunt for fish.

And woodpeckers make use of their strong toes and claws for climbing trees and pecking in crevices in search of insects.


1. American Bittern

American Bittern
American Bittern

The American bittern is a member of the heron family that stands about 30 inches tall. It is distinguished by its large size, brownish-yellow facial disk, white throat stripes on either side of the neck, and buff-colored plumes on its back.

Nesting on marshy open ground near water, females build a platform nest of vegetation, on which three to six bluish-green eggs are laid. It feeds mainly at night or at dawn and dusk on aquatic animals such as frogs, snakes, fishes, and mollusks.

Expert Tip: This species is known for being secretive and difficult to approach closely.


2. Great Egret

Great Egret
Great Egret

The great egret, also known as the common egret, is a large bird with white plumage and orange legs. It is also known as the big heron, or white heron, and is a large, widely dispersed egret. It can be found in a variety of environments, although it is most common in the tropics and subtropics.

It builds tree nests in colonies near to water, which may be seen from space. The Great Egret, also known as the Great White Egret, feeds on fish, frogs, tiny rodents, and crayfish in shallow water or drier locations.

They frequently move about slowly stalking prey. This conspicuous species has given rise to numerous folk tales and legends throughout its range.


3. Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

The great blue heron is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, common throughout North America. As a member of the Ardeidae family, it is closely related to both the grey heron and night herons as well as the cocoi heron and little blue heron.

The Great Blue Heron was one of the many species originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th-century work, Systema Naturae. Great blue herons can acclimate to all but the harshest environments.

They have been recorded as far north as Alaska and all but central Canada in summer, though they generally do not travel far inland, being limited by warmer climate rather than food sources.

Large concentrations begin to leave northern areas in August, shifting to more southern locations by October and November. The birds return to their breeding grounds in late February and early March.


4. Green Heron

Green Heron
Green Heron

The green heron breeds in much of the temperate and warmer parts of the Eastern Hemisphere. It can also be found in Florida, where it is a non-breeding bird that further north migrates to the southern United States for wintering.

Green Herons are small stocky herons with a short neck and a long thick bill with a slight downward curve. They have dull greenish-gray plumage all over, but this is largely concealed by their always partially retracted neck and short crest feathers unless they are breeding or displaying.

In-flight, distinct white patches show on the wings, which are otherwise similar to the greater yellowlegs. Males can be distinguished from females by their brighter plumes during the breeding season. Green Herons eat small fish, amphibians, and insects. They often hunt both day and night.


5. Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret
Cattle Egret

The cattle egret is a non-migratory bird found widely in the Old World, Asia, and the Pacific region. Although it is often presumed to be named because of its association with cattle, which it accompanies in order to feed on insects flushed by them, this proposed explanation may be a folk etymology.

The adult cattle egret has few predators although it may be hunted by large raptors. Cattle egrets exploit drier and open habitats more than other heron species. It is often seen standing on roads or on levees during the breeding season.

Expert Tip: They nest colonially on trees close to water bodies typically mangrove swamp forests, laying 2-6 eggs each mating season.


6. Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret
Snowy Egret

The snowy egret is a small white heron. It gets its name from the largely white plumage of breeding adults, especially those of the nominate subspecies. Like most typical egrets, it has a gular pouch for catching prey.

Unlike most other white egrets, it lacks any yellow in its plumage and does not show black on the upper mandible in flight. The legs are dark grey or black and unfeathered to the toes.

The species breeds colonially in trees close to water bodies and feeds daily (diurnal), often well away from large rivers thus it appears rather sporadic at fish ponds or flooded pastures far from wetlands. Its main prey items include small fish such as cyprinids as well as frogs, insects, and crabs.

Like most herons it is fairly sedentary, seldom moving more than 100 km in a given year even when not breeding.


7. Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron

The tricolored heron is a small heron, measuring 55-63 cm tall and weighing 0.33 to 1 kg. It has the typical aegithognathous shape of medium-sized herons, with a long neck, straight sharp bill, stocky body, and long legs.

The head is proportionately smaller than in most other large herons. In inbreeding conditions, adults have blue-gray upperparts, brown wings with chestnut coverts showing as speckles on the closed wing (visible only in flight), and whitish-gray underparts.

When not in breeding plumage, it is usually easily identified by its combination of three colors: black, white, and gray. This species displays little sexual dimorphism. Females are smaller than males but have longer tails and legs than their mates. Immature birds resemble the adults, although browner in color, losing the speckling on their wings.

Overall, they tend to be darker and more solid in appearance than other small herons which typically show some color variation due to age or wear of plumage.


8. Wood Stork

The wood stork is a large, stately bird with a white body and black wing feathers. Males are larger than females, but females will usually have longer wingspans than their mates. It typically weighs 4 to 5 pounds (2-2 kg) and stands 39 inches (99 cm) tall. Their average life span is around 30 years in the wild.

Wood Storks can live up to 22 years old in captivity, with the oldest on the record being 38 years of age. Wood Storks are very noisy when they fly, sometimes sounding like an airplane due to the loud “whoooooop” sound that they produce with their wings.

They make this noise as they gain momentum for flight, at which point their wings make a loud clapping sound. They make this noise to communicate with each other, especially at dusk and dawn.


9. Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane
Whooping Crane

The Whooping Crane is a large North American crane. It is the tallest bird native to North America. A typical mature whooping crane stands about 150-163 cm tall and measures 110–137 cm in length. Adults have a black chin, white cheeks, a brown crown, a gray neck, and a white body. They weigh an average of 7 kg (15 pounds).

In-flight, their long necks are kept straight and their large wings have dark marks at the wrists.

Expert Tip: Juvenile Whooping Cranes have reddish-brown upperparts, gray underparts with rusty spots on either flank and a whitish face similar plumage can be seen on young immature Sandhill Crane but it has streaking on its breast instead of rusty spots.


10. White-Faced Ibis

White-Faced Ibis
White-Faced Ibis

The White-faced Ibis is a medium-sized wading bird with mainly white plumage, black legs, and a long curved bill. It has blue-gray back feathers glossed green or purple which gives the appearance of iridescent color when in good light.

The body feathers are loose and fluffy, giving this bird a “ruffled” appearance at rest, despite being capable of short bursts of strong flight.

The juvenile ibis is dark brown to dull red all over with a pale whitish face and underparts. During its 2nd year, the ibis molts into adult plumage gradually over 6 months by winter, it looks like an adult but retains some juvenile features for a longer time.


11. Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill is a large wading bird with mainly pink plumage, long curved bill, and blue-gray back feathers. It has a bare red face, white head plumes, brown body, black legs, and feet.

It feeds by swinging its bill from side to side as it plunges the outer half of its long beak deep into the water. Its bill is equipped with comb-like serrations that allow it to filter food particles out of the water (similar to baleen plates in whales). They prefer brackish coastal wetlands.

This spoonbill is a medium-sized species measuring approximately 74–92 centimeters (29–36 in) in length, with a 125–135 cm wingspan and a weight of 1–2 kilograms (2.2–4.4 lb).


12. Limpkin

Limpkin
Limpkin

A Limpkin is a large bird of the ibis and spoonbill family, Threskiornithidae. It was named by William John Swainson in 1837 after its superficial resemblance to an old-world limpkin, although it is not closely related to limpkins.

It’s unique amongst native North American birds in that it’s one of only two species (the other is the ibis) that hunts for snails in brackish water, it uses its sharp bill to stab through the shells.


13. Flamingo

Flamingo
Flamingo

Flamingos or flamingoes are a type of wading bird in the family Phoenicopteridae, known for their pink plumage and decorative legs. There are four flamingo species in the Americas and two species in the Old World.

Expert Tip: A typical mature flamingo is taller than a white-fronted goose but shorter than a greater flamingo.

It has pink feathers on most of its body with grey-yellow legs and feet, black patches around the eyes, and a straight or slightly downward curved bill. A well-developed preen gland is located at the rear near the tail.


14. Jabiru

Jabiru
Jabiru

The Jabiru is a large stork found in wetlands of tropical South America. It’s the only member of its genus. It has mostly black plumage, with white on its wings, belly, and under the tail, and a red neck pouch bordered by white feathers. Males are about 2m tall, twice as tall as the female, and have a 1.3 m (4.3 ft) beak.

The female is smaller, at only 1.1 m (3.6 ft) tall and 70 cm (2.3 ft) long, and has a proportionately shorter bill and white on the side of the head.


15. Scarlet Ibis

 Scarlet Ibis
Scarlet Ibis

The Scarlet Ibis is a large, tropical wading bird in the family Threskiornithidae. It is native to South America and breeds in coastal regions from Venezuela through Central America down to Peru, northern Argentina, and Brazil. It has recently spread to North America and can now be seen nesting on Florida’s east coast.


16. Gray Heron

Gray Heron
Gray Heron

The Gray Heron is a wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae. It is also known as the Grey Heron or, simply, the Large Egret in Eurasia where it is the only member of its genus. It has two subspecies, which differ slightly in size and plumage tone.


17. Purple Heron

Purple Heron
Purple Heron

The Purple Heron is a large heron and the only member of the monotypic genus Agama. It breeds from southern Europe through Asia and Madagascar.

Expert Tip: There are currently three recognized subspecies, A. p. purpurea (described above), A. p. flavirostris (described by English ornithologist Richard Bowdler Sharpe, 1877), and A. p. nigripes (described by Nikolai Alekseevich Severtzov in 1873).


18. Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

The purple gallinule, also known as the common gallinule or waterhen, is a bird in the family Phasianidae. It is found throughout most of the warmer regions of the world, excluding only Australasia and much of South America.


19. Reddish Egret

Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret

Reddish egrets are herons, egrets, or other birds found in several parts of the world that have reddish plumage. Some are simply very pale immature Little Egrets, while others are distinctly different, being superficially similar to the Scarlet Ibis or Cocoi Heron.


20. Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane

The sandhill crane is a species of large crane of North America and extreme northeastern Siberia. The common name of this bird refers to habitat like that at the edge of marshes and lakes, although these birds will also frequent river shorelines.

These large birds have distinctive blackheads and white cheek patches. They have gray-brown body plumage.

Expert Tip: Males and females are similar in appearance, juveniles look like non-breeding adults.


21. Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron
Black-Crowned Night Heron

The Black-crowned Night Heron is a heron that may be found in almost every part of the globe. It can be found in wetlands, coastal areas, and forested regions, ranging from the Caribbean to as far north as Canada and Alaska.


22. Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron

The little blue heron is a small wading heron, and the smallest species of the Ardeidae, the family that includes the herons, egrets, and bitterns. It is found in south and central America.


23. Least Bittern

Least Bittern
Least Bittern

The least bittern is the smallest species of heron. It has cryptic plumage, but can be detected by its diminutive size and streaked breast. It breeds in marshes throughout temperate North America. Least Bitterns spend their time hunting for small fish, frogs, insects, and other aquatic animals both day and night.


24. Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

The Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus), often called the Pealibil, is a wading bird in the ibis family, Threskiornithidae. It has mainly black plumage with a greenish gloss. The long curved bill and iridescent pink to purplish legs make it unmistakable in most of its range.


25. Sandpiper

Sandpiper
Sandpiper

A sandpiper is any of a large number of shorebirds in the subfamily Tringinae within the family Scolopacidae. They are mainly small to medium-sized birds with slender, pointed bills.

The female often has a colorful rictal streak. Sandpipers have stout, longish bills and webbed feet. They are relatively long-legged and long-billed compared with other waders, and they often hold their necks arched (rather than in the normal position) and steady their bills in the water.

In conclusion, this ends our peek into the fascinating world of long-legged birds. Perhaps, you have learned something new in this article about these amazing creatures with wings.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

Long-legged birds are amazing and unusual creatures. They have to be able to cope with the challenges of long legs and wings, so it is no surprise that they possess special adaptations and skills needed for their survival. Thanks for reading this article.

About Grace Hocker

Hi, my name is Grace and I am a pet lover. Ever since 5 years old, I've owned some sort of pet from Bearded Dragons to Rabbits. I have dedicated my life to helping pets, and am here to help you get the best for your pet!