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Herons, Egrets and Bitterns & Their S-shaped Necks

9-4-13  great blue heron 1486If you’ve watched a heron, egret or bittern for any amount of time, you know they strike suddenly and rapidly at their prey . They can do this because of the structure of their neck bones. According to David Sibley, modification of the sixth cervical vertebra lets them draw their neck into an “S” shape and then shoot their head and bill forward with lightning speed. This adaptation also allows these birds to fold their neck while flying, which improves the aerodynamics of their flight. (Photograph is of a Great Blue Heron.)

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6 responses

  1. Mona

    Nice shot……

    September 4, 2013 at 11:30 am

    • Thanks, Mona! They’re a very cooperative subject!

      September 4, 2013 at 11:40 am

  2. micky

    This fascinating little detail brought tears to my eyes. Why? I think it is the beauty of this elegant adaptation.

    September 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm

  3. Wonderful photo! We occasionally spot these majestic creatures in the valley and flying over our neighborhood in Snohomish, Washington. They do fly with their heads tucked! Thanks for a beautiful shot.

    September 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

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