any member of the five or six families of storklike birds: herons and bitterns (Ardeidae), the shoebill (sole species of the Balaenicipitidae), the hammerhead (sole species of the Scopidae), typical storks and wood storks (Ciconiidae), ibis and spoonbills (Threskiornithidae), and, according to some authorities, flamingos (Phoenicopteridae). Most are of substantial size, long-legged and long-necked, and adapted for wading. They are widely distributed, often abundant, and apt to be conspicuous in their open habitats or in the air. Many are notably graceful in form and movement, and some have spectacular powers of flight

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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