While at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and photographing White Pelicans, a Wood Stork flew into the area and began feeding on the same pond. Although I was enjoying photographing the pelicans, I could not resist watching and photographing the Wood Stork.
Wood Storks are the only stock species in North America and are on the U.S. Endangered Species List. There are about 5,000 breeding pairs in the United States. They are large birds 40-44 inches in length with a wingspan of 5 feet. As you can see from the images, their feathers are predominantly white except for the edges of their wings, which are black, and their necks and heads are naked of any feathers. Males and females look alike, which is a good thing given how strange they look.
Clearly, they are not one of the prettiest bird species Mother Nature has created. However, they do not start out their lives looking so odd. Below is an image I photographed a couple years ago of a Wood Stock on its nest with two chicks. As you can see, the Wood Stork chicks start out fully feathered and are definitely more attractive than the adults. It appears the chick is hungry, begging to be fed, but being ignored by the parent stork.
- Mate for life and breed in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina usually returning to the same colony site year after year.
- Are found predominantly in coastal areas, marshes, tidal waters, swamps, mangroves, and streams.
- Feed during the day and night and eat small fish, frogs, snails, insects, snails, and aquatic invertebrates.
- Nest in trees, as seen above, and lay 2 or 3 eggs with both parents taking turns incubating them. Chicks fledge in about two months.
- Are excellent fliers soaring at times several thousand feet above the earth.