Wetland Foragers

These birds have evolved to be quite adaptable:-


Storks are carnivorous, eating fish, amphibians, reptiles, rodents and small mammals. Their ability to eat almost anything has led to 19 species establishing niches in most regions of the world. Their distribution favours Africa and Asia with just 1 species in South America.


White Storks favour open meadows, wetlands and swamps where they eat crustaceans, frogs, worms and insects.

This bird is widespread thoughout Europe. In Poland for example, these birds are seen on almost every farm where they build their nests at the top of any pole which is available.

The same situation is found in Spain. The White Stork (left) was photographed at its nest on the bell tower of the Finca Santa Marta in Extremadura.


Black Storks favour wooded country and even ravines where they eat small mammals, lizards and snakes.

Marabou Storks are bare headed and appear to be closely related to the Vultures in that they both feed on carrion. Two species found in Africa and Asia eat water snails.

The Jabiru of Central and South America is a massive Stork found in freshwater areas. It has a varied diet including molluscs, dead fish and carrion. This photograph of the Jabiru and the Wood Stork (right) was taken at the Solimar cattle ranch in Costa Rica. The Jabiru dwarfs the Wood Stork which is already quite a large bird.


Ibis are medium to large waders found on all continents except Antarctica. Their distribution favours Africa and the Americas with just 1 species in Europe. Like the Storks they seem to prosper in almost any habitat.


They feed both on land where they take insects, frogs and snakes and in the water where they sweep their beaks from side to side searching for crabs and crayfish. They have long, thin down-curved beaks which they use to probe the mud for invertebrates and vegetation. Again the 27 species known today have evolved into some very different habitats.

As with the Storks a genetic variation has led to un-feathered heads being beneficial in avoiding muddy head plumage in a species rather obviously named the Bald Ibis.

The Northern Bald Ibis (left) was photographed in Morocco and the Southern Bald Ibis is present in the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho. Both nest and breed on cliff ledges and eat lizards, reptiles, small animals and birds.

Cranes and the Limpkin.

Cranes are described as both generalists and opportunists feeding on a wide variety of plant and animal foods. They walk calmly and sedately as they forage for insects, plant materials, seeds, berries and small animals. They fly well so don’t need to run to escape predators.

The Grey Crowned Cranes (right) were seen and photographed in various parts of Kenya.


They appear to require a large foraging area for survival. In relation to breeding I have seen it stated that nest sites need to be 3000 metres apart and that fragmentation of breeding areas, for instance by agriculture, poses problems for the survival of their young.


Birds with shorter beaks feed in dry upland areas taking insects, seeds, leaves, berries, fruits, worms, lizards, reptiles, and small mammals. Those with longer beaks favour wetlands where their food includes roots, bulbs and tubers as well as crustaceans, small fish and frogs.

They are able to shift their feeding strategies with the seasons and even on a daily basis if necessary. I am sure this is why the 15 species which we know today have found suitable habitats in four of the five main regions of the world.

The Limpkin (left), photographed in Costa Rica, is the one surviving member of the family Aramidae which is found in the Americas, West Indies and Argentina. It looks like a Rail but skeletally is more like a Crane with which it shares the need for quite a large territory, in this case several hectares. It feeds on frogs, lizards and especially apple snails the availability of which is an important factor influencing the local distribution of this bird.