Wakodahatchee Wood Storks

The Wood Stork is one of my favorite birds.  I’m not sure why.  Perhaps I just relate well to bald guys.  During my recent visit to Wakodahatchee Wetlands the Wood Storks, which are listed as an endangered species, were abundant.  Near the back of the park was a rookery of twenty or thirty birds. The shallow and still waters of the wetlands provide a sufficient supply of small fish; just what these birds need to feed themselves and their young.

I love Wood Stork flyovers.
They are beautiful in flight with their white covert feathers and black primaries and secondaries displayed.
Unlike most wading birds they fly with both their neck and legs extended.
An ominous trio.
Wood Stork Rookery

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:
Cornell Lab of Onithology