Not exactly. But there are several birds that give a pretty good impression of being able to do so. One is Wilson’s storm-petrel (Oceanites oceanicus), a seabird found in abundance off the Atlantic Coast. To snatch tiny squid and other small animals from the water, it hovers like a kite with its wings held upward and its long, slender legs, dangling.
Watching this sooty brown bird patter along the wavetops with its webbed feet, one could easily believe it is walking on water, hence the name petrel, which is derived from St. Peter’s miraculous feat. Wilson’s storm-petrel is believed to be the most abundant bird on earth. It nests in loose colonies in burrows and rock crevices along the shores of Antarctica, where on a single group of islands, the South Shetlands, the species’ breeding population is estimated at 1 million pairs.
American Purple Gallinule
A bird that creates a similar illusion in a different manner is the Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinicus) of Everglades National Park and other Southern wetlands. One of the world’s most colorful birds, it strides over lily pads and other floating aquatic plants on long, unwebbed toes. The purple gallinule is also famous for its intricate nest of cattail blades, with a sloping runway to the pond where it hunts insects, spiders, and small frogs.