Blog Site by Appointment to His Regal Majesty the Maalie King

He who would be a Leader, let him be a Bridge

Crown Copyright: The Royal Maalie Court

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Long legs, long beaks...

Wading birds, almost by definition, are endowed with long legs for walking into deep water in search of food.

However, the different species have evolved by natural selection to avoid competing with each other for food by becoming specialised in their own "ecological niches". A result of this is a process of adaptive radiation in which a diverse and peculiar array of beak shapes and sizes have evolved to do different jobs for different species.

I took the pictures below on a recent visit to the Seewinkel National Park in Burgenland, Austria.

The White Stork has a powerful beak for stabbing and grabbing. Its diet may include almost anything that moves, including insects, fish, reptiles and amphibia

The Spoonbill's beak is (as the names suggests) spoon-shaped for sieving through shallow water for aquatic insects and molluscs

The Great White Egret has very long legs and neck for fishing in deeper water

The Little Egret is more delicate than its Great White cousin and feeds in shallower water for small fish, tadpoles and aquatic insects

The Black-tailed Godwit has a long probing bill for digging up worms and molluscs
that live in the mud

The elegant Black-winged Stilt has proportionately the longest legs of all for wading into deeper water and picking up very small prey items

The Avocet is one of the very few wading birds with an up-turned bill. It is used for extracting insects and molluscs from the very surface of the mud or water

I was lucky to capture this pair of Avocets mating


Blogger Sunshine said...

maalie beautiful photographs i love the 4th one because you can see shadow too in the water.. cool

3:05 pm  
Blogger Charles Gramlich said...

Beautiful birds. The spoonbill's beak is just amazing. Lana really loves these wading birds too.

4:43 pm  
Blogger lorenzothellama said...

That photo of the godwit is brilliant, with it's open beak.

Have you see the size of the stork chicks' feet on the webcam lately?

5:10 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

This is brilliant. I am book-marking this to use at school one day!!

10:23 pm  
Blogger Shrinky said...

Beautiful, beauriful photographs!

"The Great White Egret has very long legs and neck for fishing in deeper water,,"

Bit like me (wink).

11:15 pm  
Blogger simon said...

great shots mate. and very informative. Reminds me ( again) of the eagle/kite in the everglades that has evolved a beak than is used to extract the snail. So specialised that, if the snail dies out, so too will the bird. What is the name of the bird? I cannot recall

11:54 pm  
Blogger donsands said...

Marvelous birds. Just marvelous.

I actually was able to take a few photos of a Blue Heron when I went to the Miles River on the Eastern Shore. I think I might post my photos. Thanks for the inspiration.

Very flighty birds let me tell you, those Herons.

Thanks for posting.

12:09 am  
Blogger Magdalene said...

I've been missing your beautiful bird pics, Maalie, so thought I'd pop over for a quick fix.

8:28 pm  
Blogger Lana Gramlich said...

Very lovely shots! Keep up the good work!

3:57 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home