White faced heron / Matuku moana
Egretta novaehollandiae novaehollandiae
Native. Not Threatened. Stable Overseas.
Birds’ knees do not bend the opposite way to ours. What you perceive as a “knee” here is actually an ankle. The femur - the thigh bone - that’s the one with the drumstick meat on it - is basically invisible, hidden below feathers, along with the ‘knee’ joint. The visible ‘top’ bit of leg is the bit below the knee, the equivalent of the tibia (actually called the tibiotarsus in birds). That makes the ‘backwards bending knee’ joint actually the ankle joint to the equivalent of our tarsals - the birds’ tarsometatarsus. We don’t tend to think of our foot having joints within it, but of course it does, where our phalanges join the tarsals. This is a much more visible joint in birds, which perhaps adds to our confusion.
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