Bill various: legs moderate or elongated, slender, with the lower part of the tibia generally naked, adapted for wading: toes long, three or four in number, more or less connected by a membrane at the base, sometimes lobated.
Bill short or moderate, rarely elongated; robust or slender: legs moderate, or elongated: toes three, all directed forwards; rarely the rudiment of a fourth; the outer and middle toes generally united at the base by a membrane.
Bill shorter than the head, depressed at the base, somewhat arched and bent down towards the tip, pointed: nostrils basal, oval, covered above by a protuberant membrane: legs long and slender: toes three, very short; almost divided to their origin: claws very small, the middle one serrated: wings moderate; second quill longest.
Bill longer than the head, straight, very robust, a little depressed at the base, compressed laterally; culm en elevated towards the tip; lower mandible angulated beneath: nostrils medial, longitudinally cleft: tarsi long and slender: toes three, united by a membrane at the base: wings moderate; second quill longest.
Bill shorter than the head, straight, slender, compressed, somewhat tumid and enlarged towards the tip: nasal channel extending two-thirds of its length, covered by a large membrane; nostrils basal, linear, pierced in the membrane: tarsi moderate, slender: toes three; outer and middle ones connected by a short membrane; inner toe free: wings moderate; first quill longest.
Bill moderate, straight, compressed, slender at the base, tumid towards the extremity; upper mandible slightly bending at the tip: nasal channel large, covered by a membrane; nostrils linear, pierced in the membrane: tarsi moderate, slender: toes four; outer and middle toes connected at the base; hind toe small, and elevated: wings long and acuminated.
(1. Squatarola). Nasal channel extending half the length of the bill: tarsi reticulated: hind toe rudimentary: first quill longest.
(2. Vanellus). Nasal channel two-thirds the length of the bill: acrotarsia scutellated: hind toe moderately developed: fourth and fifth quills longest.
Bill moderate, strong, nearly straight, forming a lengthened cone, with the culmen a little depressed, and the apex subtruncated; the commissure slightly ascending: nasal channel half the length of the bill: toes four; the anterior ones almost entirely divided; hind toe moderately developed, touching the ground: wings long; first quill longest.
Bill moderate, straight, slender and flexible throughout, compressed at the base, depressed and dilated towards the tip: nasal groove extending nearly the whole length; nostrils lateral, linear: tarsi moderate, slender: toes three, divided nearly to their origin: wings moderate; first quill longest.
Bill long, robust, straight, compressed, the tip cuneated: nostrils lateral, nearly basal, oblong-linear, placed in a groove: tarsi moderate, robust: toes three; the outer and middle ones connected as far as the first joint; all the toes bordered by a narrow membrane: wings long; first quill longest.
Bill strong, moderate or elongated: legs long: toes four in number; the outer and middle ones united at the base by a small membrane; hind toe short, elevated on the tarsus.
Bill a little longer than the head, straight, compressed, deeply channelled at the base of the upper mandible on each side, the tip forming a lengthened cone: nostrils medial, placed in the lateral groove, closed behind by a membrane: head generally more or less naked: a considerable part of the tibia naked: wings moderate; third quill longest.
Bill strong, elongated: legs long: feet with four toes; anterior ones more or less united at the base; hind toe long, resting on the ground.
Bill as long as, or a little longer than the head, strong, straight or very slightly inclined, thick at the base, gradually tapering towards the tip; upper mandible channelled for about two-thirds of its length: nostrils nearly basal, placed in the groove, and partly closed by a membrane: orbits and lore naked: lower part of the tibia more or less naked: middle claw with the inner margin pectinated: wings ample; second and third quills longest.
(1. Ardea). Bill longer than the head, the upper mandible nearly straight: occiput usually ornamented with a pendent crest: neck slender, elongated.
(2. Botaurus). Bill scarcely longer than the head, higher than broad at the base, very much compressed; upper mandible slightly curved: neck thick, rather short; the feathers on the fore part loose and elongated, capable of erection; those behind short and downy.
(3. Nycticorax). Bill scarcely longer than the head, higher than broad, much compressed; upper mandible slightly curved: occiput with three very long subulate feathers: neck thickish, rather short.
Bill much longer than the head, straight, robust, cylindrical, acute, forming a lengthened cone; upper mandible convex above; under mandible inclining a little upwards at the tip: nostrils nearly basal, open, longitudinally pierced in the horny substance of the bill: orbits naked: tarsi very long: a considerable part of the tibia naked: claws short, depressed, not pectinated: wings moderate; third, fourth, and fifth quills longest.
Bill very long, robust, much depressed, dilated and rounded at the extremity in the form of a spatula: nostrils dorsal, oblong, open, bordered by a membrane: head and face more or less naked: tibiae semiplumed: tarsi long: the three anterior toes united as far as the second joint by a deeply cut membrane: wings moderate; second quill longest.