Wood Stork on the Anhinga Trail

Earlier this year on a visit to the Florida Everglade’s Anhinga Trail I had the pleasure of getting up close to a Wood Stork.  Occasionally I see these birds foraging in the canals that run alongside Florida highways or flocking overhead.  They are interesting birds and the only members of the stork family to breed in the US, so I was happy to finally get an opportunity to experience one close up.  These large wading birds have fascinating feeding technique. The Wood Stork steps slowly through shallow waters, submerging its large bill – leaving it open.  When a unsuspecting fish swims through, the stork’s bill slams shut with lightning speed.  Here are some shots of my Wood Stork taking a break between feeding sessions.

Notice the black trim along the edge of the wing.  When the Wood Stork is on the ground it appears to be an all-white birds but in flight the black undersides of its wings are displayed.

The Wood Stork’s large bill snaps shut with lightning speed when it detects a fish.  At 25 milliseconds this is one of the fastest reflex reactions among vertebrates.

References and More Information:
Wikipedia
NatGeo
Cornell Lab of Onithology

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