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Home Adaptations Feet Wading
Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs
(Courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine/NGPC)

Not all water birds swim through the water.

Some prefer to wade through shallow water. These birds typically have long, slender legs that allow them to walk slowly and effortlessly through the water. These birds don't even get their feathers wet.

Cranes, herons, and sandpipers are all wading birds. Wading birds typically eat aquatic insects, small amphibians, and fish – all things found in shallow water.

Like passerines and raptors, waders have three toes pointing forward and one pointed backwards.

Many wading birds have long toes to match their long legs. This is not just for looks, of course. It's an adaptation that actually helps the waders walk through mud without losing their balance.


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