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Wading birds

Great egretGreat egretStorks and herons are long-legged wading birds. They stand motionless in shallow water waiting to snap up passing fish, though some large storks are also carrion-eaters. Storks and herons belong to a family of birds that also includes ibises, egrets, bitterns and spoonbills. Their relatives, the flamingos, get their pink colour from the tiny plant and animal material that they filter from the water. Other groups of birds that live and feed in wetland habitats include the cranes and the rails.

A pair of white storks matingA pair of white storks mating


Stork have long, broad bills. They can survive in drier areas than cranes or herons. Some large species, such as the marabou stork, feed on carrion. Storks build their nests in high, remote sites, out of reach of predators. Most choose clifftops or trees, but chimneys make a good alternative, and are wide enough to support their huge nests.

Some species mate for life, nesting in the same place every year. The male arrives at the nest first. When the female joins him, the couple court, throwing back their heads and clacking their beaks. Then they mate on the nest. An egg is laid each day until there are three or four. Both parents incubate the eggs until they hatch a month later.

The Sarus crane is the world's tallest flying bird. It stands up to 1.8 m (6 feet) tall.

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