When you think of birds, it’s most likely that your mind goes straight to the cute little songbirds that frequent your backyard daily.
But what about the bigger birds out in the wilderness, particularly those with long necks and legs?
Do you think you could name more than a couple of them?
Well, with the help of this article, that task is about to become much easier! Below, we’ve compiled a list of 22 birds with long necks and legs.
You’ll undoubtedly have heard of some of these before, while others may be brand new to you. Either way, you’re guaranteed to learn something new!
Let’s start with one of the most impressive birds you’ll ever come across.
The Tricolored Heron.
This tall bird can be found throughout North America, and, as its name suggests, it sports three different colors on its plumage; dark blue-gray upperparts, white underparts, and a coral-orange neck and head.
These orange markings on the male go even brighter during the mating season as he attempts to attract a mate.
They are most abundant in Southern Louisiana and Mississippi, as well as the coastal marshes of Florida.
This is because they prefer to set up home in dense bushes or tree cavities near a source of water where they can hunt for fish at dawn and dusk.
These impressive birds stand at the height of 4-5ft tall and have a wingspan of 6-7ft, depending on maturity and sex, with females being larger than males.
A member of the Heron family, the Cattle Egret is a large, stocky bird standing at the height of around 1ft on average and a wingspan of 3ft.
It has primarily white plumage, a rust-orange neck and head, and a bright yellow bill.
Found throughout Africa, Asia, and Australia, the Cattle Egret is the happiest living near a source of water such as wetlands, marshes, and riversides.
They can also be found living in flooded fields alongside cattle, hence their names.
They feed on insects and hunt by using their long legs to wade through water and tall grass before swooping down with their long necks and snatching them up in one swift move.
One of the most remarkable-looking birds with long necks and legs that you’ll come across, the Limpkin is a migratory waterbird.
It can be found in the Southeastern United States throughout the summer, and as soon as winter starts approaching, it takes to the skies and heads to the Southern coastal regions of Florida.
It’s pretty easy to identify a Limpkin, thanks to the white spots that cover the majority of its brown body. It also has an elongated neck, legs, and bill and stands at 2ft tall with a wingspan of 3.5ft.
Like many taller birds, the Limpkin’s natural habitat is coastal lagoons, swamps, and salt marshes, where its preferred food is more abundant. This includes insects, worms, oysters, crabs, mollusks, and shrimp.
Sadly, due to its population size, limited range, competition, and the degradation of its natural habitat, the Limpkin is classified as a “threatened” species.
Another bird that prefers to live near a water source, the Sandhill Crane, is native to North America but migrates to Mexico, Central America, and South America in late fall before returning in early spring.
Identifiable by their light gray plumage and bright red cap, these tall birds stand at 4 ft high and have a wingspan between 5-7 ft. This makes it one of the largest wingspans of any bird species.
Most commonly found in wetlands, fields, mudflats, and flooded agricultural areas, the Sandhill Crane’s diet consists mainly of aquatic invertebrates.
They’ll also eat fish, frogs, and worms that they’ll pick out of the shallow water or mud using their long, sharp bills.
The Gray Heron is one of the most famous birds with long necks and long legs.
It can be found throughout Europe and the United States and is most commonly spotted along riverbanks, ponds, lakes, wetlands, and estuaries. There have also been sightings of Gray Herons on beaches!
Using their specially-evolved bill, they hunt for their food (small fish and insects) by searching through mud and aquatic vegetation. They also use this bill to pull nesting material out of the water.
While it’s common to see a Gray Heron, it’s quite uncommon to actually see one in motion.
The majority of the time, you’ll find them standing motionless, their 3ft tall body poised with long necks stretched outwards, waiting to strike at their prey as it glides through the water.
Named for its pure, snow-white plumage, the Snowy Egret also has bright yellow feet and a bright yellow eye bar. It stands at an average height of 2 ft and has a wingspan of 2.5 ft. They also have long, sharp claws that they use for hunting.
These don’t only help them pull their prey out of the water but tear it apart and, in some cases, crack through a hard outer shell.
Snowy Egrets can be found throughout North America, Central America, and South America, and they live in both freshwater and saltwater habitats. This includes swamps, ponds, estuaries, and lakes.
The Roseate Spoonbill has to be one of the most remarkable creatures you will ever see.
Not only does it have a long neck and legs, making it stand at an average height of 3 ft, but it has a specially-evolved bill with a spoon shape at the end.
This helps it scoop up its prey from the water, which includes frogs, tadpoles, fish, crabs, shrimp, and aquatic invertebrates.
They hunt by slowly wading through shallow water before swooping down, scooping up the prey with their bill, and simultaneously filtering out water, mud, and gravel.
Found across both North and South America, the Roseate Spoonbill lives exclusively in wetlands and lakes. Males tend to be larger than females and are more brightly colored.
They have bright pink legs, a pale pink body, and a white neck and head. That famous spoon-shaped bill is a pale blue color.
Named for its unmistakable white-colored face, the White-Faced Ibis stands at 1.5 ft tall and has an average wingspan of 3 ft.
The rest of its plumage is an iridescent copper color and sports a green tail and wings.
Found in North America, South America, Central America, South Africa, and the Caribbean, this long-necked bird lives exclusively near water.
Its habitats included swamps, wetlands, and anywhere else with shallow enough water to catch its prey.
They also almost exclusively feed on fish, but they’ll also chow down on amphibians, shrimp, insects, and crustaceans. Some have even been known to eat reptiles when food is scarce.
Standing at an average height of 4.6 ft and with a massive 9 ft wingspan, the Jabiru is one bird that we simply cannot leave off this list!
A large member of the Stork family, Jabirus has white plumage with black blacks and black wings. Their necks and heads are entirely feather-free and, instead, show off their gorgeous black skin.
Most commonly found in Central America and Southern Texas, the Jabiru nests in tall trees near wetlands or other large bodies of water.
This ensures it is close to its natural food source of crabs, fish, frogs, crustaceans, and aquatic invertebrates.
One fun fact about Jabirus is that they’ll take their fledglings out of the nest with them to hunt from a young age rather than constantly returning to the nest.
They simply place their young on one leg and feed it as they wade through the water.
Another super-famous, long-necked, long-legged bird, the Stork, can be found in many different locations all over the world. These include Europe, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, and tropical Asia.
Standing at an average height of 5 ft and with a wingspan of around 8 ft, storks are easy to identify by sheer size alone.
They have white upper parts and neck, a black tail, and a bright red bill. This long bill is utilized to catch fish and frogs in one killer move while the stork stands in perfect stillness along the edge of the water.
Of course, feeding on aquatic animals requires the stork to live near a source of water. As such, you’ll most likely spot one near a body of water such as wetlands, ponds, rivers, and lakes.
Lesser-known in the United States, the Purple Heron is actually a fairly common sight throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia.
They are often mistaken for cranes as they have a similar build, long necks, and thin, straight beaks.
Their coloring is similar to that of a crane as well, with iridescent purple-gray plumage across their entire body.
Like most long-necked birds, the Purple Heron is most commonly found near a water source, including wetlands and rivers.
Here, they hunt for fish, aquatic insects, frogs, and crustaceans by wading through the shallows and snatching them out of the water with their specialist beak.
The American Flamingo is one of the most recognizable birds on the planet.
Not only is it famed for its long legs and long neck, but its coral-pink plumage and bright legs have made it a favorite amongst wildlife lovers for years.
Native to Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean, American Flamingos live exclusively in water environments. This includes salt marshes, wetlands, rivers, estuaries, ponds, and lakes.
Often seen in large flocks, they feed by using their specialist bills to scrape algae from the bottom of whichever area of water they’ve made a home in.
It’s also this alga that gives them their famous pink plumage.
Found near freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers, and swamps all over North and South America, the Great Egret stands at 3 ft tall and has a wingspan of 4.8 ft.
It’s not only this height that makes them easy to spot, though. They have a body covered in pure white feathers and a bright yellow bill.
When we say that they can be found all over North and South America, we aren’t kidding! Sightings have been noted in New York, Texas, and even Brazil.
Wherever there is a suitable source of water, you’re likely to find a Great Egret.
This is mainly due to their diet, which consists of frogs, small fish, aquatic insects, and crustaceans They will also happily eat any other small animal that they find in swamps and lakes.
Unlike their “Great” cousins, the Red Egret is covered with blue-gray feathers, has a dull-red head, and a pink bill with a black tip.
They are about the same size as the Great Egret, measuring 2.5 ft in length and with a wingspan of 4 ft.
Found most commonly in the wetlands of Florida and Texas, these long-necked birds hunt by searching through the muddy waters looking for fish, crabs, frogs, and shrimp to dine on.
They’ve also been known to eat rodents and smaller birds when food is scarce.
One remarkable thing about the Red Egret is that its feet extend beyond its legs when it is standing upright, almost at an “L-shape.” This helps it keep its balance while it wades through the water and through tall grasses between wetlands.
One of the rarest birds in the world, with only around 600 in the wild, the Whooping Crane stands at an average height of 5 ft and has a wingspan of 7.7 ft.
Their body is supported by long, black legs, and they are covered with gray-white feathers. They also have a red patch across each eye, which is one of the things that makes them most recognizable.
The small number that survive in the wild can be found in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast of Texas, although some also survive in parts of Canada and Mexico.
Their natural habitat is ponds and shallow marshes, where they can easily find their preferred food source of fish.
They’re equally as happy eating berries and vegetation, though, and will often turn to these food sources when fish aren’t so abundant.
Little Blue Heron
As you may have guessed from its name, the Little Blue Heron is a smaller member of the Heron family, standing at just 2.5 ft tall and with a wingspan of 3 ft.
Found across North America and most commonly in Florida, it has blue-gray feathers, a dark blue head and neck, and long white feathers right on the back of its head.
They live in freshwater habitats, including lakes, marshes, ponds, and streams, and their long legs and long necks are perfectly evolved to help them snatch fish from the surface of the water.
Fish aren’t the only food they enjoy, though. Little Blue Herons are also known to eat insects, crustaceans, frogs, and even the occasional snake.
Staying in the Heron family for a moment, the Black-Headed Heron is a migratory bird that is native to Madagascar and Africa.
However, as winter starts to take hold in these regions, it heads North to Europe and North America, where it also prefers to breed.
Named for its black cap, the rest of the plumage is a blue-gray color that turns to a light gray on the underparts.
It also stands at 3 ft tall and has a wingspan of 5 ft. Mostly solitary, the Black-Headed Heron will join other species to create a mixed flock at the edges of wetlands.
It has that famous heron hunting habit of standing completely still, waiting for prey to pass before quickly darting its head into the water and snatching it out. This prey includes fish, crabs, frogs, and snails.
Great Blue Heron
Another member of the Heron family, the Great Blue Heron, dwarfs some of its cousins with a height of 5 ft and a wingspan of 6.5 ft.
It has a remarkably similar appearance to that of the Gray Heron, with a blue-gray body, long wings, and elongated neck.
There isn’t much difference between males and females either, although males are typically larger and have longer plumes.
Like all other Herons, the Great Blue Heron lives in wetlands and spends most of its day hunting for fish along the edges of lakes and ponds.
Its diet consists of fish, frogs, shrimp, and crayfish. It has also been known to eat mice, salamanders, and snakes.
It’s quite hard to spot an American Bittern as it is an expert in camouflage!
The white underbelly and upper parts streaked with dark brown stripes make them particularly difficult to spot amongst the surrounding vegetation.
However, they have an extremely distinctive call that has been compared to the sound of a wooden water pump!
The American Bittern’s diet consists mainly of aquatic insects such as waterbugs and dragonflies, but they will also eat amphibians and snakes as well.
Although not a particularly tall bird, the Purple Gallinule has long yellow legs and a long neck used for hunting.
It’s also one of the most colorful birds on our list, sporting bright blue-purple feathers all over its body and a yellow-tipped bright red bill.
You can find Purple Gallinule in the Florida peninsula all year round, and some will migrate further south to Central America for the winter to set up home in shallow wetlands and swamps.
It hunts by foraging through the vegetation at the side of the water to pick out small fish, frogs, and aquatic invertebrates.
It also uses its long, powerful legs to balance on top of lily pads when it needs to hunt a little further into the water.
The Green Heron is peculiarly named as it doesn’t have any green feathers at all.
Instead, it features iridescent black upperparts, a rusty-red neck, and white underparts. It’s also one of the smaller members of the Heron family, but it still has longer legs than most other birds.
Found across most of the United States, the Green Heron’s habitat consists of rivers, lakes, ponds, and oceans.
It’s also an extremely opportunistic hunter and will try to gobble up anything that it can fit in its mouth.
One incredible thing about the Green Heron is that it is one of the only tool-using birds in the world.
Rather than eating everything they come across, they’ll often drop some bait into the water to attract a larger number of smaller fish!
It’s easy to see where the Scarlet Ibis gets its name. Covered with bright red feathers and pink skin, it truly is a wonder to behold.
It’s not the largest bird, measuring around 2 ft tall and with a wingspan of 1.7 ft, but it does have a long neck and long legs that help it catch its prey.
Found in the Caribbean and the Southeastern United States, the Scarlet Ibis lives in wetlands and shallow ponds near coastal regions and mashes.
It finds its food by using its slightly curved bill to poke into the mud and search for larvae, insects, mollusks, and crustaceans.
This bird nests in colonies and raises its young in dense vegetation along the edge of the water to protect itself and its young from snakes and alligators.
As you can see, quite a few species of birds with long necks and legs are out there to discover!
The vast majority of these live in areas surrounded by water, and this evolutionary need gave them their long necks and legs.
So, next time you’re near a beach, wetland, or swamp, why not keep an eye out for one of these birds on our list!