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Wading Birds and New World Vultures: Ciconiiformes


The Ciconiiformes are carnivorous birds. Wading birds catch many different kinds of animals in or near water, including shrimp and other crustaceans, fish, frogs, insects, and snails. Some also feed on small mammals, birds, and reptiles. Very few of them also eat carrion and fruit. The New World vultures feed almost entirely on carrion.

Ibises, spoonbills, and some of the storks have very sensitive bills. They hunt for prey by touch, either by probing in the water and mud with their bills slightly open or by swinging their bills from side to side in the water. The other birds in the order Ciconiiformes search for prey by sight. Most herons and storks stand still or wade slowly through shallow water to stalk their prey. Some of the vultures do not have to see carrion in order to find it—in addition to having good eyesight, they also have a strong sense of smell.

Goliath herons and some other wading birds feed by themselves. These birds protect a feeding territory as large as 3.7 square miles (9.6 square kilometers). Many other wading birds feed in huge flocks. As feeding areas dry out or get flooded, the flocks move around to find the best places to eat.

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Animal Life ResourceBirdsWading Birds and New World Vultures: Ciconiiformes - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Wading Birds, New World Vultures, And People - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE