Waterbirds are a group of bird species that adapt to live in aquatic environments. Various species of water birds live in both freshwaters as well as marine habitats. So, waterbirds can float on the surface of the water, catch fish, swim, and wade through water.
Hence, here will discuss the various kinds of birds which collectively constitute water birds.
Water Birds – Sea Birds
Sea Birds adapt to inhabit marine environments. The waterproof nature of the plumage of the sea birds and extra feathers prevents them from getting wet. Sea birds drink seawater but salt causes no harm to them because the desalinization glands present on their heads filter the salt from the water and excrete the salt through their nostrils. Furthermore, various species of sea birds exhibit surface feeding, pursuit diving, plunge diving and scavenging to get food.
Water Birds – Shorebirds
Shorebirds or waders are water birds that inhabit beaches, marshes, lagoons, inland waterways, wetlands, and rocky shores. There are about 212 species of shorebirds in the world. Shorebirds are characterized by long legs and round heads. They have bills to look for food in sand, mud, gravel, and water. Shorebirds survive on invertebrates such as mollusks, crustaceans, larvae, insects, worms, etc. Also, many species of shorebirds exhibit migratory behavior and travel thousands of kilometers before breeding season.
Grebe Water Birds
Grebes are freshwater birds which are famous for their exceptional diving and swimming abilities. The body size of grebes varies from small to medium. The bill is pointed and legs are present far back on the body. The plumage is waterproof and dense. Grebes can’t walk on land. They build nests on aquatic vegetation. Diet includes fish, crustaceans and small invertebrates. Also, seven species of grebe inhabit North and South America, five species inhabit Eurasia and three species are found in Africa and Australia each.
Anseriformes is an order consisting of 180 species of water birds. Swans, ducks, geese, and screamers come under this order. Anseriformes are characterized by flat bills and long necks. The feet have three toes attached to others by webbing. Anseriformes feed on aquatic plants. They have amazing swimming and flying abilities. Yet, some flightless species are also a part of Anseriformes.
One can see Loons easily in freshwater lakes located in the USA, Canada, and northern Eurasia. They have long bodies, short tails, and pointed bills. Their legs set beyond the tail which helps them in swimming. Loons can stay inside water for up to 5 minutes. They feed on fish, crabs, shrimps and aquatic vegetation. Besides, Loons are capable to dive inside the water without making a sound.
Pelecaniformes is an order consisting of 66 species of medium and large-sized water birds. These birds inhabit marine and inland water habitats in Asia, Australia, Africa, North America, Antarctica, and the high Arctic. The birds range in length from 40 cm to 1.8 meters. The feet of birds coming under this order has four toes which are linked by webbing. Further, Pelecaniformes mainly eat fish although some species also eat reptiles, crustaceans, and amphibians.
Additionally, you can discover waterbirds even in habitats with extreme climates. These are Antarctica and salty waters of South America.