Similar But Not Related

Greater flamingo in flight, Walvis Bay (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Just because birds resemble each other doesn’t mean they’re related.

Flamingos and cranes are both tall birds with long necks and long legs but they come from different branches of the taxonomic tree.

Sandhill cranes in flight, Bosque del Apache (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

They resemble each other in flight and on the ground.

Greater flamingos at Kutch (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Sandhill cranes in Lawrence County PA, July 2020 (photo by Steve Gosser)

However flamingos are related to grebes and cranes are related to sandpipers as shown in the phylogenomic supertree below. (Note the purple rectangles that highlight the birds.)

As odd as it seems, here are flamingos and cranes with much closer relatives.

Pied-billed grebe (by Chuck Tague) and flamingo (from Wikimedia Commons)
Least sandpiper and sandhill cranes (photos by Steve Gosser)

It’s possible to be similar but not related.

Keep this in mind when you look at a hawk and a falcon. They are not closely related either.

(Sandhill cranes in Lawrence County PA by Steve Gosser; pied-billed grebe by Chuck Tague; phylgenomic supertree from MDPI; remaining photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the captions to see their origin)

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