Today's Wildlife Field Identification Guide  

Wetland Birds

Wetland birds live close to water in marshy and coastal areas. Examples are cranes and pelicans. Most of these birds are protected.

Range Maps

All animal descriptions are accompanied by a map showing the animal's habitat range. The maps are color-coded as follows:

  Summer Range
  Winter Range
  All-Year Range
Bittern, American
American Bittern
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Gary Zahm
American Bittern Area Map
Endangered. A secretive, medium-sized heron with brown streaking underneath and sometimes a black streak extending down neck from the base of the bill. Immature: no black streak. Habitat and Habits:
Lives in freshwater or brackish marshes with tall vegetation. Makes a loud pumping sound when breeding. Platform nests are composed of reeds placed a few inches above water; 2 - 6 buffy olive-brown eggs.
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Coot Area Map
Duck-like waterbird with a slate-colored body and black head and neck. Partial ring around tip of white bill. Immature: grayish with whitish chin and throat and no ring around bill. Habitat and Habits:
Lives in the summer on marshy lakes; winters along the coast. Sounds like a tiny trumpet. Nests on a platform of floating vegetation attached to reeds; 8 - 12 eggs, pink-buff with dark marks.
Crane, Sandhill
Sandhill Crane
Credit: Don Baccus
Sandhill Crane Area Map
Tall, grayish with some reddish coloring on back and red patch above bill. Immature is also gray, but more reddish and without red patch above bill. Habitat and Habits:
In summer found on tundra, wetlands, prairies, and fields; in winter found in shallow ponds, marshes, and fields. Makes a low-pitched call. Nests in grasses in or near water; 1 - 3 pale green eggs.
Crane, Whooping
Whooping Crane
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Whooping Crane Area Map
Tall, white with black patches on face and red crown. Immature: White with reddish head and wing tips. Habitat and Habits:
In summers found on marshes; in winter on coastal areas. Nests in grasses in or near water; 1 - 3 buff-colored eggs.
Egret, Great
Great Egret
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Joe Kosak
Great Egret Area Map
Endangered. Large, white heron with black legs and yellow bill. Habitat and Habits:
Lives on marshes, swamps, seashores, and lake margins. Makes very deep, low "kroow" and "karrr." Nests often high up in trees and shrubs; 1 - 6 pale bluish-green eggs.
Heron, Black Crowned Night
Black Crowned Night Heron
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Black Crowned Night Heron Area Map
Gray-and-white stocky heron with black cap and back. Immature: brown with white streaks below and white spots on back and wings. Habitat and Habits:
Lives in freshwater streams, lakes, rice fields, dry grasslands, and salt marshes. Makes a low, hoarse “quok” at dusk. Nests in reeds, shrubs, or trees; 3 - 5 pale blue-green eggs.
Heron, Great Blue
Great Blue Heron
Credit: Pennsylvania Game Commission
Great Blue Heron Area Map
Protected. Large grayish-blue heron with black areas on wings and top of head; white face; light yellow bill. Neck folded in flight. Habitat and Habits:
Found on lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes, and swamps. Makes a squawking sound. Nests in colonies usually found in trees, or shurubs but sometimes on the ground; 3 - 7 aqua-colored eggs.
Pelican, Brown
Brown Pelican
Credit: Texas Parks & Wildlife
Brown Pelican Area Map
Large with grayish-brown body and dark bill and throat pouch. Habitat and Habits:
Found exclusively on coastal areas year round. Usually makes no sound. Nests in colonies on high ground in dirt; 2 - 4 white eggs.
Pelican, American White
American White Pelican
Credit: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, John Foster
American White Pelican Area Map
Large with white body; large orange bill and throat pouch. Immature has gray bill and pouch. Habitat and Habits:
In summer found on marshes and lakes; in winter on coastal areas. Usually quiet. Nests in depressions near water; 1 - 3 white eggs.
Snipe, Wilson's (Common)
Common Snipe
Credit: Tom J. Ulrich
Common Snipe Area Map
Long-billed, dark brown and black shorebird with white stripes on head and back. Outer tail feathers are white with black bars. Flies in zigzag pattern. Habitat and Habits:
Found in wet meadows and freshwater marshes; in winter also found in saltwater marshes. Makes a “scaip” call when flushed. Nests in depressions in marshy areas; 4 yellowish-olive-colored eggs with brown spots and brown circle at large end. Migratory.
Wildlife Guide
White-tailed deer tracks
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Online wildlife identification guide last modified: January 3, 2008
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