Wood Storks

Wood Stork seen on our sunset tour of cape coral

Immediately identifiable by their bald heads. The Wood Stork comes from the ibis, heron, flamingo family. Other identifiable features include their white bodies and black feathers on their wings and tail. Their legs are blackish grey and their feet are pink. They have a bill that measures up to 10 inches (25.5 cm) in length and will have a yellowish tint to it.

The Wood Stork has been stated to be endangered for nearly 30 years but according to an article recently in The Miami Herald, the federal wildlife intends to reduce their status to “threatened”. In 1984 there were only 2,500 nesting pairs and now there are approximately 9,000 nesting pairs of Wood Storks.

Early on the Wood Stork was only known to be nesting in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Currently you will see them nesting as far west as Mississippi and as far north as North Carolina.

Of the approximately 17 species of storks, the Wood Stork is the only stork to nest in the US. You will find them nesting in cypress Marshes, swamps and occasionally in the Mangroves. They nest in colonies which can consist of up to 25 nests in one tree. Each nest is skillfully constructed by the male gathering sticks and bringing them back to the female who will in turn shape the nest. The Wood Storks will also use some green leaves in their nest for insulation while the females eggs are being incubated.

The female will lay 3 - 5 eggs per year and both parents will share the responsibility of incubating the eggs for 27 - 32 days. When the chicks are born they will weigh a fragile 2 oz (60 grams). By the time the chicks reach 10 days old they will have already increased their weight by ten times their birth weight.

The Wood Stork will find its food in wetlands, shallow water, agricultural drainage areas and sometimes in the Mangroves. The birds will use their bright pink feet to move the water around and stir up the fish. They will open their beak in the water and when a fish swims through they will snap it shut. This maneuver will happen in as quickly as 25 milliseconds!

Some articles state The Wood Stork flies gracefully through the air and some describe them as awkward in the air. Next time you see a Wood Stork watch them fly and judge for yourselves. They are able to fly as high as 6,000 ft in the air and will fly up to 50 miles in search for their food.

An adult Wood Stork is 33 - 45 inches (83-115 cm) tall, with a wingspan of 58-71 inches (140-180 cm ) across. Males will weigh up to 7.3 lbs (3.3 kg) and females weigh up to 6.2 lbs (2.8 kg).

Sources used for this article and for further reading about The Wood Stork: