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Wood Stork standing still
  Wood Stork in flight
Credit: Wikipedia
  Credit: Ira Runyan
 

 


Wood Stork

 

 

A large, white, bald-headed wading bird of the southeastern swamps, the Wood Stork, Mycteria americana, is the only stork breeding in the United States. The Wood Stork is a broad-winged bird that flies with its neck outstretched and legs extended.

Wood Stork map

Wood Storks measure three feet in length, weigh over five pounds and have a wingspan of five feet. Their plumage is white except for the short tail and primary and secondary flight feathers, which are black with an iridescent sheen. The unfeathered head and upper neck are covered with rough, scaly, dark gray skin. The long bill is stout, curving slightly downward at the end. Males are larger than females, but the sexes are otherwise alike. Immature birds are grayish, with dusky head feathers and yellowish bills.

Wood Storks often feed in groups, constantly moving through open shallow wetlands where their fish prey is highly concentrated. They primarily consume saltwater and brackish fish species less than ten inches long, especially sunfish. On occasion, they also eat amphibians, crustaceans, reptiles, mammals, arthropods, and other birds.

Not considered true migrants, Wood Storks move in response to the availability of food. When food is scarce, the birds relocate to areas of greater abundance.

Pairs often mate for life and return to the same nest each breeding season to raise their offspring. In Florida, Wood Storks lay eggs from October through June. Nests are constructed out of sticks high atop cypress, mangrove, or other trees in marshy woodlands. Wood storks nest colonially with from 5 to 25 nests in a single tree.

Females typically lay one clutch of two to five eggs, but may re-lay after nest failure. Both parents incubate for about 30 days, and both regurgitate whole fish to feed their offspring. The young leave the nest after nine weeks, but are fed for another three to four weeks.

Calls, usually silent. Nasal barking at nest.

    Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    Cornell Lab of Ornithology
   Wood Stork colony
Credit: FWS
 

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Last updated: June 18, 2014