Long-legged Wading Birds and Cranes and Rails

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This picture shows four species of long-legged wading birds: Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Reddish Egrets, and Roseate Spoonbills. Photographed at Ding-Darling Sanctuary in Sanibel, Florida.

In the United States there are five families of birds represented in the Ciconiiformes order, the long-legged wading birds: Ardeidae, Ciconiidae, Phoenicopteridae, Threskiornithidae, and Cathartidae. The family of Cathartidae which includes vultures and the California Condor has only been put in the order, Ciconiformes since approximately 1999. Previously it had been in the order Falconiformes with the hawks, eagles, etc. With the exception of the Cathartidae family this order of birds generally have long legs and long beaks which allow them to hunt for food in a variety of habitats.
Long-legged Wading Birds (Order:  Ciconiiformes)
Family: Ardeidae
Genus: Ardea
Great Egret
Gt. Blue Heron 1
Great Egret 2
Gt. Blue Heron 2
Great.Egret 3
Gt. Blue Heron 3
Great.Egret 4
Gt. Blue Heron 4
Great Egret preening
Gt. Blue Heron 5

Gt. Blue Heron 6

Great Blue Heron

The Great Egret and the Selection of Habitat

Genus: Egretta
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Herone
Reddish Egret
Tri-colored Heron
Snowy Egret

Genus: Bubulcus
Cattle Egret

Genus: Nyctanassa
Yellow-crowned Night Heronrm
Genus: Nycticorax
Black-crowned Night Heron
Genus: Butorides
Green Heron

Genus: Botaurus
American Bittern

Genus: Ixobrychus
Least Bittern

Family: Ciconidae
Genus: Mycteria
Wood Stork
Wood Stork
Wood Stork

Family: Phoenicopteridae
Genus: Phoenicopterus
Family:  Threskiornithidae
Genus: Ajaia
Roseate Spoonbill#1
Roseate Spoonbill#2
Roseate Spoonbill#3
Roseate Spoonbill#4
Genus: Eudocimus
White Ibis
White Ibis
White Ibis
White Ibis
Genus: Plegadis
White-faced Ibis
Egrets and Ibis
Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis

Family: Cathartidae
Genus: Cathartes
Turkey Vulture
#2 #3

Genus: Gymnogyps
California Condor
Genus: Coragyps
Black Vulture
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About the cranes and rails

This is a very diverse order of birds that includes the Whooping Crane and the American Coot. There are three families, Gruidae which includes the cranes, Aramidae (Limpkin), and the rails found in the family, Rallidae. All the members of this order can be found in marshy habitat. Many of the species are endangered because their main habitat, wetlands, is disappearing. The cranes look very similar to members of the long-legged wading birds except that cranes fly with their neck straight out and herons and egrets fly with neck bent.

Cranes and Rails
Order: Gruiformes

Family: Gruidae
Genus: Grus
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane
Sandhill Crane


Family: Aramidae
Genus: Aramus

Family: Rallidae
Genus: Fulica
American Coot
Genus: Porzana
Sora Rail

Genus: Gallinula
Common Moorhen
Genus: Porphyrula
Purple Gallinule

Genus: Laterallus
Black Rail
Genus: Rallus
Ridgway Rail
Virginia Rail