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A water bird, alternatively waterbird or aquatic bird, is a bird that lives on or around water. In some definitions, the term ''water bird'' is especially applied to birds in
freshwater ecosystem Fresh water (or freshwater) is any naturally occurring water Water is an Inorganic compound, inorganic, Transparency and translucency, transparent, tasteless, odorless, and Color of water, nearly colorless chemical substance, which is ...
s, although others make no distinction from
seabird Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the ...

seabird
s that
inhabit
inhabit
marine environment Marine habitats are habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environ ...
s. Some water birds (e.g.
wading bird FIle:Vadare - Ystad-2021.jpg, 245px, A flock of Dunlins and Red knots Waders are birds of the order Charadriiformes commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wikt:wade#Etymology 1, wade in order to foraging, forage for food (such as inse ...
s) are more terrestrial while others (e.g.
waterfowl Anseriformes is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, ...
s) are more aquatic, and their adaptations will vary depending on their environment. These adaptations include
webbed feet The webbed foot is a specialized limb present in a variety of vertebrates that aids in locomotion. This adaptation is primarily found in semiaquatic species, and has convergently evolved many times across vertebrate taxa. It likely arose fro ...
,
beak The beak, bill, and/or rostrum is an external anatomical structure found mostly in birds Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellu ...

beak
s, and legs adapted to feed in the water, and the ability to dive from the surface or the air to catch prey in water. The term ''aquatic bird'' is sometimes also used in this context. A related term that has a narrower meaning is
waterfowl Anseriformes is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, ...
. Some
piscivorous (''Nerodia sipedon'') eating a fish A piscivore is a carnivore, carnivorous animal that eats primarily fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. Th ...
birds of prey Birds of prey, also known as raptors, include species of bird Birds are a group of s constituting the Aves , characterised by s, toothless beaked jaws, the of eggs, a high rate, a four-chambered , and a strong yet lightweight . Bi ...
, such as
osprey The osprey or more specifically the western osprey (''Pandion haliaetus'') — also called sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk — is a Diurnality, diurnal, piscivore, fish-eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. It is a large Bird of ...

osprey
s and
sea eagle A sea eagle (also called erne or ern, mostly in reference to the white-tailed eagle) is any of the birds of prey in the genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of thin ...
s, hunt aquatic prey but do not stay in water for long and lives predominantly over dry land, and are not considered water birds. The term waterbird is also used in the context of conservation to refer to any birds that inhabit or depend on bodies of water or
wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles ...

wetland
areas. Examples of this use include the
Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds, or African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) is an independent international treaty developed under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Programme The United N ...
(AEWA) and the
Wallnau Waterbird Reserve The Wallnau Waterbird Reserve (german: Wasservogelreservat Wallnau) is one of the most important Special Protection Area, reserves for migratory birds in Germany and the largest of Naturschutzbund Deutschland, NABU's nature conservation centres. Th ...
.


Types

Some examples of water birds are: *
Seabird Seabirds (also known as marine birds) are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the ...

Seabird
s (marine birds, orders
Suliformes The order Suliformes (, dubbed "Phalacrocoraciformes" by ''Christidis & Boles 2008'') is an order recognised by the International Ornithologist's Union. In regard to the recent evidence that the traditional Pelecaniformes is polyphyletic File:M ...
,
Sphenisciformes Penguins ( order Sphenisciformes , family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families ...
,
Phaethontiformes The Phaethontiformes are an order of birds. They contain one extant family, the tropicbirds (Phaethontidae), and one extinct family Prophaethontidae from the early Cenozoic. Several fossil genera have been described. The tropicbirds were tradi ...
, and
Procellariiformes Procellariiformes is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or ...
, family Pelecanidae within
Pelecaniformes The Pelecaniformes are an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or ...
and families
Alcidae An auk or alcid is a bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), bi ...
,
Laridae Laridae is a family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subj ...
, and Stercorariidae within
Charadriiformes Charadriiformes (, from ''Charadrius '' Charadrius '' is a genus of plovers, a group of wader, wading birds. The genus name ''Charadrius'' is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. The name derives from ...

Charadriiformes
) *
Shorebird FIle:Vadare - Ystad-2021.jpg, 245px, A flock of Dunlins and Red knots Waders are birds of the order Charadriiformes commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wikt:wade#Etymology 1, wade in order to foraging, forage for food (such as ins ...

Shorebird
s (waders, order
Charadriiformes Charadriiformes (, from ''Charadrius '' Charadrius '' is a genus of plovers, a group of wader, wading birds. The genus name ''Charadrius'' is a Late Latin word for a yellowish bird mentioned in the fourth-century Vulgate. The name derives from ...

Charadriiformes
) *
Waterfowl Anseriformes is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, ...
s (order
Anseriformes Anseriformes is an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, ...

Anseriformes
, i.e.
duck Duck is the common name for numerous species of waterfowl Anseriformes is an order (biology), order of birds that comprise about 180 living species in three families: Anhimidae (the 3 screamers), Anseranatidae (the magpie goose), and Anati ...

duck
s,
geese A goose (plural geese) is a bird of any of several waterfowl Anseriformes is an order (biology), order of birds that comprise about 180 living species in three families: Anhimidae (the 3 screamers), Anseranatidae (the magpie goose), and An ...

geese
,
swan Swans are birds of the family (biology), family Anatidae within the genus ''Cygnus''. The swans' closest relatives include the goose, geese and ducks. Swans are grouped with the closely related geese in the subfamily Anserinae where they form th ...

swan
s, magpie geese,
screamer The screamers are three South American bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (k ...

screamer
s) *
Grebe Grebes () are aquatic diving birds in the order (biology), order Podicipediformes . Grebes are widely distributed birds of freshwater, with some species also occurring in sea, marine habitats during Bird migration, migration and winter. The order ...

Grebe
s (order Podicipediformes) *
Loon Loons (North America) or divers (United Kingdom / Ireland) are a group of aquatic bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicell ...

Loon
s (order
Gaviiformes Gaviiformes is an order (biology), order of aquatic birds containing the loons or divers and their closest extinct relatives. Modern gaviiformes are found in many parts of North America and northern Eurasia (Europe, Asia and debatably Africa), tho ...
) *
Storks Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading bird FIle:Vadare - Ystad-2021.jpg, 245px, A flock of Dunlins and Red knots Waders are birds of the order Charadriiformes commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wikt:wade#Etymology ...

Storks
(order
Ciconiiformes Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading bird Waders or shorebirds are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characterised by feathers, toothless beaked jaws, the ...
) *
Pelecaniformes The Pelecaniformes are an order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or ...
(
pelican Pelicans (genus ''Pelecanus'') are a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organisms as well as Virus classification#ICTV clas ...

pelican
s,
heron The herons are long-legged, long-necked, freshwater and coastal bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic org ...

heron
s,
ibis The ibises () (collective plural ibis; classical plurals ibides and ibes) are a group of long-legged wading bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also call ...

ibis
es, etc.) *
Flamingo Flamingos or flamingoes are a type of wading bird FIle:Vadare - Ystad-2021.jpg, 245px, A flock of Dunlins and Red knots Waders are birds of the order Charadriiformes commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wikt:wade#Etymology 1, ...

Flamingo
s (order
Phoenicopteriformes Phoenicopteriformes is a group of water bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the King ...
) *Some members of the order
Gruiformes The Gruiformes are an order (biology), order containing a considerable number of living and extinct bird family (biology), families, with a widespread geographical diversity. Gruiform means "crane-like". Traditionally, a number of wading and t ...
(including cranes and
rails Rail or rails may refer to: Rail transport *Rail transport and related matters *Rail (rail transport) or railway lines, the running surface of a railway Film *Rails (film), ''Rails'' (film), a 1929 Italian film by Mario Camerini *Rail (1967 fi ...
,
crake The rails, or Rallidae, are a large Cosmopolitan distribution, cosmopolitan family (biology), family of small- to medium-sized, ground-living birds. The family exhibits considerable Biodiversity, diversity and includes the crakes, coots, and gall ...
s,
coot Coots are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to mainta ...

coot
s and
moorhen Moorhens—sometimes called marsh hens—are medium-sized water birds that are members of the rail Rail or rails may refer to: Rail transport *Rail transport and related matters *Rail (rail transport) or railway lines, the running surface of ...

moorhen
s) *
Kingfisher Kingfishers or Alcedinidae are a family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or soc ...

Kingfisher
s (mainly the water kingfishers, sometimes the river kingfishers, and rarely the
tree kingfisher The tree kingfishers or wood kingfishers, family (biology), subfamily Halcyoninae, are the most numerous of the three subfamilies of birds in the kingfisher family, with around 70 species divided into 12 genus, genera, including several species o ...
s) *One family of
passerines A passerine () is any bird of the Order (biology), order Passeriformes (; from Latin 'sparrow' and '-shaped'), which includes more than half of all bird species. Sometimes known as perching birds or songbirds, passerines are distinguished from ...
, the
dippers Dippers are members of the genus ''Cinclus'' in the bird family Cinclidae, so-called because of their bobbing or dipping movements. They are unique among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater. Taxonomy The genus ''Cinclus'' ...


Evolution

The evolution of waterbirds is often mainly centered around adaptations to improve feeding techniques. This includes legs that are adapted to diving or wading and webbing between the toes. Many of these adaptations are common between different types of waterbirds. For example,
flamingo Flamingos or flamingoes are a type of wading bird FIle:Vadare - Ystad-2021.jpg, 245px, A flock of Dunlins and Red knots Waders are birds of the order Charadriiformes commonly found along shorelines and mudflats that wikt:wade#Etymology 1, ...

flamingo
s and
duck Duck is the common name for numerous species of waterfowl Anseriformes is an order (biology), order of birds that comprise about 180 living species in three families: Anhimidae (the 3 screamers), Anseranatidae (the magpie goose), and Anati ...

duck
s share a similar filter-feeding lifestyle, and the
shoebill The shoebill (''Balaeniceps rex'') also known as whalehead, whale-headed stork, or shoe-billed stork, is a very large stork-like bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class (biology), class Aves , characte ...

shoebill
has a similar structure (
morphology Morphology, from the Greek and meaning "study of shape", may refer to: Disciplines *Morphology (archaeology) In archaeology, morphology is the study of the shape of Artifact (archaeology), artefacts and ecofacts. Morphology is a major consid ...
) to many wading birds.
DNA sequence DNA sequencing is the process of determining the nucleic acid sequence A nucleic acid sequence is a succession of bases signified by a series of a set of five different letters that indicate the order of nucleotides Nucleotides are organic ...

DNA sequence
analysis, specifically the
mitochondrial gene Electron microscopy reveals mitochondrial DNA in discrete foci. Bars: 200 nm. (A) Cytoplasmic section after immunogold labelling with anti-DNA; gold particles marking mtDNA are found near the mitochondrial membrane (black dots in upper right). ...
sequencing, has been used to classify and differentiate the various aquatic birds. This classification is found by a
relative apparent synapomorphy analysisRelative apparent synapomorphy analysis, or RASA, is a method that aims to determine whether a given character is shared between Taxon, taxa due to shared ancestry or due to Convergence (biology), convergence. A synapomorphy is a shared trait found a ...
(RASA) which highlighted certain branches of genes that classified the domestic duck and fowl, for example, as an outgroup. Comparing and understanding these gene patterns allows scientists to classify aquatic birds.


Conservation

To promote the conservation of waterbirds in America, the Waterbird Conservation for the Americas was launched to facilitate this over such a large area. The purpose of this initiative is to promote international cooperation and partnership to preserve waterbird habitats, create long term sustainability plans, implement specific conservation plans for regions, and support legal action for waterbird conservation on the regional and national levels.  


Extinction

The loss of wetlands has impacted waterbirds and is driving their extinction in regions where wetlands are polluted. Specifically, in China, 33% of wetlands were lost between 1978 and 2008, which is the primary breeding ground for China’s waterbird species such as the Baer’s Pochard, which is now at risk for extinction. The Baer’s Pochard’s population has decreased to between 150 and 700 birds in recent years due to negative environmental impacts on their habitat as well as human activities such as hunting and fishing. This loss of wetlands is a result of various sources in China. The rise of urbanization and industries has resulted in pollution and waste in the water. In addition, reclamation projects for construction further threaten ruining the habitats of these birds. For example, the largest of these reclamation projects is the Oufei Project, which spans 8854 Hectares.


Interspecific competition

Experimental evidence of competition has been difficult to obtain in highly mobile animals that cannot be meaningfully confined to plots of limited size. Many such animals are believed to compete with less mobile, resident taxa, but the supporting evidence has often remained circumstantial. One example is the interaction between water birds and benthic feeding fish, or fish that feed at the lowest level of a body of water. Many migratory water birds use similar food resources on their breeding, molting, or overwintering grounds as do resident fish species. Studies, such as that done by Eadie and Keast in 1982, found an inverse relationship between the waterbird
Goldeneye ''GoldenEye'' is a 1995 spy film, the seventeenth in the List of James Bond films, ''James Bond'' series produced by Eon Productions, and the first to star Pierce Brosnan as the fictional Secret Intelligence Service, MI6 agent James Bond (lite ...
and benthic feeding fish across multiple lakes. Similar studies have suggested that mobile waterbirds avoid areas with high fish density and reduce competition.


Diseases

Outbreaks of diseases spread by waterbirds result from the transition of water-borne viruses to those wild birds. The spread can be caused by dead waterbirds in the vicinity of other organisms, or simply from waterbirds with the virus settling into more densely populated areas (whether by humans or other organisms).


Duck enteritis virus (DEV)

Duck plague (DP), also called duck enteritis virus (DEV), presents the most important concern in mass waterfowl production. Free-ranging water birds are the most likely infectious carriers. While the overall epidemiology of DEV is unknown in western Europe, studies conducted in Poland agree with the high levels of transmission between free-ranging water birds.{{Cite web, last=Woz´niakowski, first=Grzegorz, last2=Samorek-Salamonowicz, first2=Elzbieta, date=11 December 2013, title=First survey of the occurrence of duck enteritis virus (DEV) in free-ranging Polish water birds, url=https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s00705-013-1936-8.pdf, url-status=live, access-date=2021-03-15, website=, doi=10.1007/s00705-013-1936-8.pdf DEV is an aetiological agent of DP, which represents one of the most acute and lethal diseases of waterbirds, and infection can spread easily between farmed and wild waterbirds. Over 48 species of birds, including those not considered waterbirds, are susceptible to infection by DEV, and the mortality rate of this disease can reach up to 100%, especially in young birds.


H5N1

Avian influenza Avian influenza, known informally as avian flu or bird flu, is a variety of influenza caused by viruses adapted to birds.
caused by infection with
H5N1 Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 (A/H5N1) is a subtype of the influenza A virus ''Influenza A virus'' causes influenza Influenza, commonly known as "the flu", is an infectious disease An infection is the invasion of an organism's ...

H5N1
, a highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV), has spread in poultry in more than 60 countries in Eurasia and Africa since 1996, when the first outbreak occurred at a goose farm in Guangdong province in China. H5N1 in wild birds have spread to Asia, Europe, and Africa, and it is possible for the H5N1 virus to be spread by migratory water birds to the west and south, as genetically closely related H5N1 viruses have been isolated in several countries since 2005. H5N1 HPAIV infections have become endemic in several countries and cause accidental transmissions to humans. H5N1 viruses are thus now recognized as one of the most likely candidates for the next pandemic.


References

Birds by common name Birds