Wood Storks

Mycteria americana
Wood storks


Wood storks are a common visitor of St. Catherine Creek NWR during August and September when much of the water is drying up and food resources are being concentrated in small pools.  Because the refuge is within the floodplain of the Mississippi River and not protected by large levees, it is common for the river to recede from the refuge during late July through early September.  This event can draw over 4,000 wood storks from their breeding habitats in Mexico and Central America to the refuge to utilize evaporating pools to catch fish and invertebrates. 

The wood stork is a subtropical and tropical species, which breeds in much of South America, Central America and the Caribbean. It is the only stork that presently breeds in North America. In the United States there is a small and endangered breeding population in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, along with a recently discovered rookery in southeastern North Carolina.  The wood stork is a broad-winged soaring bird that flies with its neck outstretched and legs extended. It typically forages where lowering water levels concentrate fish in open wetlands; it also frequents paddy fields. Walking slowly and steadily in shallow water up to its belly, it seeks prey, which, like that of most of its relatives, consists of fish, frogs and large insects. It catches fish by holding its bill open in the water until a fish is detected.  In the United States, the wood stork favors cypress trees in swamps, ditches, and shallowly flooded emergent marshes.



Facts About Wood Storks

Carnivore (mainly fish)
Average Lifespan
11 — 18 years
5 lb. 
33"-14" body length 
4.9'-5.8' wingspan