Staff periodically allow the water to drain out of the man made ponds they manage in the South Carolina Wildlife Management Areas. Any fish and other delectables for wading birds get concentrated in the remaining water pools for easy eating for the wading birds.
The mud that got exposed in the middle of this pond was thick and some of the smaller birds really had to work it to move along. This Tricolored Heron used his wings to help.
I don’t know how the underside of this Tricolored Heron stayed so white.
Perhaps a surprise when landing, he didn’t seem to mind his feet and legs being coated. I didn’t see any of the birds in the area “shake it off” like a mammal might do.
In addition to providing easy meals to migrating birds, the roots of grasses and other non-welcome vegetation around the pond are exposed to the sun, dry out, and hopefully die back before water is allowed to flow back in.