AQUATIC BIRDS: Characteristics, Types and Names - with Photos

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As their name indicates, aquatic birds are those that, in their evolution over time, have adapted to living in aquatic or water habitats, both freshwater and saltwater. Although at first it may not seem like it, there really is an amazing variety among these birds.

In this Green Ecologist article we tell you everything related to waterfowl: characteristics, types and names.

Characteristics of waterfowl

Aquatic birds are those that inhabit aquatic environments, both marine (beaches, oceans) and freshwater (lakes, wetlands …), counting, for this, with a series of adaptations that allow them to live in these ecosystems and support a diversity of climates and specific environmental conditions of life in water , although they are not always the same in all species.

Among these adaptations is the development of membranes on the legs that facilitate swimming, the acquisition of beak morphologies specialized in the capture of prey such as fish, amphibians or insects that inhabit the aquatic environment, the development of wings that allow them to swim, as in the case of penguins, or the presence of long and thin legs that facilitate movement through the water and keep the rest of the body dry.

Some aquatic birds divide their time between aquatic and terrestrial environments, while others spend most of their life in the water and only return to land to reproduce, being migratory birds.

Types of waterfowl

Some waterfowl live between aquatic and terrestrial environments, while others pass most of his life in the water and they only return to land to reproduce. There are several kinds of waterfowl, according to the habitats they occupy (river waterfowl, marine waterbirds, wetland waterfowl, etc.), as well as whether they have the ability to fly or not.

Types of waterfowl according to flight

  • The flying waterfowl They are those that have the ability to fly, which is highly relevant in their predatory activities, as they hunt their prey in the air. Most of the time, they live very close to water, both in lakes or rivers and in the sea.
  • For their part, flightless waterfowl They lack this ability, so they spend their lives on the shores of the aquatic environment. They have highly developed hunting skills, with interdigital membranes on the legs and uropygial glands that keep their feathers waterproof (by spreading an oil on them) to conserve body heat, and they usually occupy areas where there is not an abundance of predators. A clear example of this type of bird are penguins.

Types of waterfowl according to their habitat

  • The wading birds They occupy surface water habitats, both salty and fresh, for which they have long, thin legs that facilitate movement through the water without the need to wet the rest of the body, as well as long and flexible necks that allow them to reach prey by below the surface of the water. Certain species of wading waterfowl stir water with their feet to find food, while others filter it with their beaks. Some species of wading birds are cranes or flamingos.
  • The diving birds they make up a group of species that inhabit waters at greater depths than waders. Divers dive and dive, swimming for prey underwater. Among the adaptations that they have developed during evolution, the legs with webbed toes stand out, which facilitates their impulse in swimming, as well as the presence of waterproof feathers. In addition, species of salty aquatic environments have also acquired salt glands that allow them to excrete excess sodium chloride resulting from the ingestion of water from the environment. Some species belonging to this group are ducks or pelicans. Among the diving birds associated with marine habitats (also called seabirds), many spend long periods of time away from land and obtain their food from the sea, although all species return to land to lay their eggs. In some places, seabirds are concentrated in numbers of up to 40 million individuals, as occurs annually on the island of Newfoundland with species such as Atlantic puffins. These concentrations of birds in their reproductive season attract large waves of tourists.

Names of waterfowl - examples with photos

Here are some examples of waterfowl, with their common and scientific names:

  • American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
  • Common Crane (Grus grus)
  • Emperor penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri)
  • Common flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)
  • Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
  • Mandarin duck (Aix galericulata)
  • Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)
  • Great crested grebePodiceps cristatus)
  • Great cormorantPhalacrocorax carbo)
  • Cattle egretBubulcus ibis)

If you want to read more articles similar to Waterfowl: characteristics, types and names, we recommend that you enter our Wild Animals category.

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