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A great white heron spreads its wings and glides out across caramel-colored sawgrass. An anhinga catches a fish with its beak and shakes its head. In the Everglades, the birds rule the land and the sky.

In Everglades National Park, over 350 different species of birds have been sighted. There are many different ways to identify one group of birds from another.

Some of the birds you will see in the Everglades may include:

Wood stork - an endangered bird that makes its home in the murky mud of the Everglades. Standing 3 feet tall and weighing only 4 to 7 pounds, the wood stork preys on small fish by sweeping its bill slightly under the surface of the water.

Roseate spoonbill – A relative of the flamingo, this pink bird has a flat bill that it uses to scoop up muck from the bottom of the river.

White pelicans - Like many tourists in South Florida, these birds only come down for the winter. Their webbed feet and long net-like beak make the pelicans look a bit like Dopey of the Seven Dwarves. They are most visible near Florida Bay and on the Snake Bight Trail.

Turkey vulture - A black, ominous bird that feeds on the carcasses of dead animals, the turkey vulture is one of the scariest looking birds in the Everglades. At its adult size, the vulture has a wingspan of 6 feet.

Snail kite - Perhaps the most interesting, and one of the most threatened birds in the park, is the snail kite. This bird does not have a varied diet, feeding almost exclusively on the meat of the large aquatic apple snail. Skillfully plucking the snail from the water, this bird will use its specially adapted beak to pry the snail loose from its shell and eat it. The draining of prime snail habitats by humans kills off the kite's primary source of food, causing its population to drop.

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