Speckled bird on a beach
Birds,  Nature Photo Challenge,  Themed galleries

Gallery: some long-legged birds

How long should a man’s legs be? Long enough to touch the ground.

J D Salinger

A bird’s legs too must touch the ground eventually, however much time they spend in the air. And that’s where I find it easier to photograph them. Plus, the longer the legs, the easier it tends to be to spot them too!

So when Denzil asked to see birds with long legs for this week’s Nature Photo Challenge, I found quite a selection in my archives to choose from. Many are from Africa where I’ve done the most wildlife photography. But South and Central America also feature, as does Europe.

Most, although not all, are in or near water. Long legs are ideal for waders as they can explore deeper waters in their search for food.

Brown bird with long legs and bill on a dead tree

Whimbrel, Rio Nosara in Costa Rica

My feature photo is also of a Whimbrel, on the beach near Ngala Lodge in the Gambia

Large pink bird in a tree

A Roseate Spoonbill by the same Rio Nosara in Costa Rica

Two wading pink birds reflected in the water

Andean Flamingos in the Salar de Atacama, Chile

I have a whole gallery of photos of these beautiful birds here

Large long-legged pink birds in the sea

Greater Flamingos near Faro, Portugal

Long-legged brown birds on a river bank

Senegal Thick-knees on the Gambia River

Their name is a bit of a misnomer as we cannot see birds’ knees. What we see is the ankle. Their knees are much further up, hidden by their feathers. And below their ankles is their foot, so in fact birds stand on just their tiptoes.

Long-legged grey bird on a boat

A Western Reef Heron on a boat in the Gambia river

A Little Egret near Souimanga Lodge in the Sine-Saloum Delta, Senegal

White bird with long legs wading

Two long-legged brown, black and white birds on sticks by water

Spur-winged Lapwings, also at Souimanga Lodge in Senegal

Long-legged brown, black and white bird on mud

A striking White-crowned Lapwing in Chobe National Park, Botswana

Two long-legged birds with bright bills in water

Also in Chobe National Park, a pair of Yellow-billed Storks

Large bird with long legs on a grassy plain

My only example away from water, an Ostrich in Etosha National Park, Namibia

The ostrich uses its long legs not to wade but to run, sometimes even faster than many other birds can fly.  

Two large grey birds by water

Demoiselle Cranes, Khichan, Rajasthan

The Jain population of this small village feed the migrating cranes , encouraging them to stop here in their thousands every winter

Long-legged black and white bird in water

To finish with, a bird spotted a lot closer to home, an Avocet in Norfolk


Do share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you! And please include your name in case WP marks you 'anonymous' - thank you