Wading Birds of Columbia County, Oregon

Wading birds are long-legged, long-billed birds that tend to hunt their prey in the shallows of wetlands. In our area they include herons, bitterns, egrets, cranes, rails, and coots.

great blue heron columbia county oregon
Great Blue Heron – Our county’s most iconic bird, they hunt fish, frogs, rodents, and invertebrates in our waterways and meadows. (photo © Jon Hakim)
green heron columbia county oregon
Green Heron – Less common and not as easily spotted as the Great Blue Heron, preferring to remain hidden in small trees or brush at the waterway’s edge. (photo © guyincognito)
black-crowned night heron columbia county oregon
Black-crowned Night Heron – This nocturnal heron is found across most of 5 continents, though it is rarely recorded west of the Cascades. (photo © Craig Hensley)
american bittern columbia county oregon
American Bittern – An extremely difficult bird to spot, well-camouflaged and wary in marsh vegetation, freezing in an upright position when disturbed. (photo © dpdawes)
great egret columbia county oregon
Great Egret – Our most common egret, can be identified by its large size, yellow bill, and black feet. Closer related to Great Blue Heron than to the Snowy Egret. (photo © Peter Pearsall USFWS)
snowy egret columbia county oregon
Snowy Egret – Rarely seen here, can be distinguished from Great Egret due to its smaller size, black bill and bright yellow feet. (photo © Jon Hakim)
cattle egret oregon columbia county
Cattle Egret – A worldwide species, but almost never spotted here. Short yellow beak, brown breeding plumage, and small size distinguish it from other egrets. (photo © Bill Carroll)
sandhill crane columbia county oregon
Greater Sandhill Crane – Our tallest bird, mostly found in eastern Oregon but there is a population on Sauvie Island. Listed as a sensitive species by the ODFW. (photo © Mike Carlo USFWS)
Virginia Rail – This little wading bird hides in the thick vegetation of marshes and thus is rarely seen except by astute observers. (photo © Tom Murray)
Yellow Rail – Our smallest rail, uncommon in Oregon and virtually never goes into the open, so sightings are rare. Listed as a Sensitive Species by the ODFW. (photo © Rich Kostecke)
Sora – Larger than Yellow Rail with thicker bill and grey neck. Juveniles are brown, but have a different back pattern and are more likely than Yellow Rail to be seen in open. (photo © Reuven Martin)
American Coot – This common black bird is often mistaken for a duck, but the shape of its feet and bill betray it as a member of the crane and rail family. (photo © cgates326)

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