Birds come in all shapes and sizes. Some birds evolved long wings to help them fly over great distances, while others evolved short, powerful wings. Meanwhile, some birds have long beaks to help them catch fish, while others have short beaks to break open seeds. Depending on the environment, birds can rely on different physical abilities to survive. For example, most mammals have seven cervical vertebrae in their necks. As a result, most mammals have short necks, which help reduce birthing complications and neuronal problems. However, reptiles, amphibians and birds adapt different numbers of vertebrae in their necks. This is why you see some birds with short necks and others with long necks. Long-necked birds rely on their necks to help them catch prey, and are usually wading birds. That is, which birds have long necks?
In this article, we’ll look at 7 different long-necked birds. In addition to discussing their distribution and habitat, we’ll discuss their physical characteristics, diet, and conservation status. Additionally, we took the time to examine the structure of their necks and how they use their long necks to survive. Get ready to stretch your necks and watch as we learn about 7 long-necked birds.
#7: Jumbo Ibis
Giant ibis is a member of the ibis and spoonbill family Threskiornithidae.It is the largest surviving ibis in the world and the only member of the genus kiwi fruit. You can only find these large waders in parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Their preferred habitats include wetland areas such as swamps, lakes, rivers, ponds and some open grassy areas. On average, they are 40 to 41.5 inches long and weigh about 9.3 pounds. Their plumage is dark gray-brown with darker stripes on the head and shoulders and silvery wingtips. The giant ibis has a long neck that curves backwards before protruding forward. They use their long necks to help them catch aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans, amphibians, reptiles and insects such as crickets. At this time, the IUCN lists the giant ibis as critically endangered due to habitat loss and climate change.
#6: Stork Stork
The stork stork, also known as the funeral bird, is a member of the stork family Storkidae. Its nickname comes from its appearance, which includes huge, cape-like gray-black wings. Stork storks also have long, thin legs, a patch of white hair on their back, and a bald head and neck. Typically, they are 60 inches tall, weigh nearly 20 pounds, and have a wingspan of between 7 and 13.3 feet. They live only in sub-Saharan Africa and thrive in both wet and dry habitats. Storks live in groups, but often display aggressive tendencies. Their diet consisted mainly of carrion, which may explain why their heads and necks were devoid of feathers. The absence of feathers ensures that these long-necked birds keep their bodies clean as they dig around dead bodies. The IUCN lists them as a species of least concern.
#5: Roseate Spoonbill
Like the great ibis, the pink spoonbill belongs to the stork family and the family ibis family Ibis. They live in freshwater and coastal areas of the southeastern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. On average, they are 28 to 34 inches long and weigh 2.6 to 4 pounds. The roseate spoonbill gets its name from its reddish-pink color and large, flat beak. In addition to their main brightly colored plumage, they also have white feathers on their long necks, backs, and chests. Like flamingos, they get their color from eating a lot of crustaceans, although they also eat insects, frogs and newts. Roseate spoonbills use their long necks to help them find food in shallow water. Despite predation by predators and other threats, the IUCN ranks the roseate spoonbill as a species of least concern.
#4: Giant Heron
Also known as giant heron, the giant heron is a member of the Arididae family. In general, Goliath herons are 3 feet 11 inches to 5 feet long and weigh between 8.8 and 11 pounds. In general, their color is mainly light brown and gray. However, unlike the rest of its body, its throat, front neck, and upper chest are all white with black stripes. They live almost exclusively near bodies of water such as lakes, swamps and deltas, and even avoid flying over land as much as possible. You can find them in sub-Saharan Africa, although some also live in South Asia. Their diet consists mainly of fish such as mullet, tilapia and carp, although they will eat just about anything they can catch. They use their incredibly long necks to help them catch a wide variety of prey. The IUCN lists these long-necked birds as a species of least concern.
#3: Greater Flamingo
The greater flamingo is part of the flamingo family Phoenicopteridae. Of all living flamingo species, the greater flamingo is the largest and most widespread. You can find them in mudflats and shallow coastal lagoons in Africa, Southern Europe, and South Asia. In general, most larger flamingos are 43 to 59 inches tall and weigh 4.4 to 8.8 pounds. Their plumage appears primarily pink, although the edges of the wings appear redder. Like all flamingos, their color comes from the abundance of shrimp that make up most of their diet. However, they also eat seeds, algae and molluscs. When feeding, these long-necked birds suck up water through their beaks, then filter out any food. Due to its wide distribution, the greater flamingo is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN.
#2: Great Egret
Also known as the common egret or great egret, the great egret is part of the heronidae family Arididae. Great egrets are found in a variety of wet and dry habitats in Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. its latin name, egret, which translates to “Egret”, is an apt nickname. This great egret is almost completely white except for its black legs and yellow bill. Generally, they are 31 to 41 inches long and have a wingspan between 52 and 67 inches. Their diet consists mainly of fish, but also includes insects, frogs, reptiles and small mammals. When flying, you’ll often see great egrets with their necks tucked in. However, when not flying, these long-necked birds tend to extend their necks when walking. Due to their large numbers, the IUCN lists great egrets as a species of least concern.
#1: Whooping Crane
Whooping cranes are members of the crane family Craneidae. It gets its name from its unique way of making sounds, which can be heard from a mile away. They live only in North America, ranging from Canada in the north to the Gulf of Mexico in the south. In fact, they’re the tallest birds in North America, standing between 4’1″ and 5’3″. Their plumage is predominantly white, although they have a red crown and black wingtips. Whooping cranes have relatively straight necks compared to some other long-necked birds. They use their long necks to help them catch crustaceans, mollusks, and fish as they wade through shallow water. Due to habitat loss and overhunting, the whooping crane population is currently only around 800. Therefore, the IUCN lists the whooping crane as an endangered species.
I am broadly interested in how human activities influence the ability of wildlife to persist in the modified environments that we create.
Specifically, my research investigates how the configuration and composition of landscapes influence the movement and population dynamics of forest birds. Both natural and human-derived fragmenting of habitat can influence where birds settle, how they access the resources they need to survive and reproduce, and these factors in turn affect population demographics. Most recently, I have been studying the ability of individuals to move through and utilize forested areas which have been modified through timber harvest as they seek out resources for the breeding and postfledging phases. As well I am working in collaboration with Parks Canada scientists to examine in the influence of high density moose populations on forest bird communities in Gros Morne National Park. Many of my projects are conducted in collaboration or consultation with representatives of industry and government agencies, seeking to improve the management and sustainability of natural resource extraction.
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