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Wood Stork

From Opus

Photo by David RoachSawgrass, Florida, USA
Photo by David Roach
Sawgrass, Florida, USA
Mycteria americana


[edit] Identification

1 m tall. White, black-grey legs, pink feet; in flight, the trailing edge of the wings is black, dark brown head, bald, black face, dusky yellow thick downcurved bill. Juvenile birds are a duller version of the adult, generally browner on the neck, and with a paler bill.

[edit] Distribution

North, Central and South America. Breeds in North America in southern Georgia and throughout Florida and rarely also in South Carolina and on the Gulf Coast west to Texas. Also breeds on both coasts of Mexico and Central America, in the Caribbean on Cuba and Hispaniola, and in South America west of the Andes from Colombia and Venezuela south to Uruguay and north-east Argentina. Northern birds undergo post-breeding dispersal and become more widespread in the southern USA as far as southern California, in Mexico and the West Indies. Wandering birds sometimes move further north along coasts and river valleys. Southernmost breeders probably undergo similar movements. Accidental vagrant to New York and Kansas.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Freshwater marshes and wooded swamps, particularly Cypress swamps in the USA. Also occurs in coastal marshes and lagoons.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Breeding

Wood Storks are colonial nesters. Nesting season (FL USA) begins in March and runs through July. Wood Storks prefer a Cypress stand surrounded by water and the presence of alligators. This keeps raccons from raiding the nests for eggs. Nests are built next to the Cypress trunk or very close in on branches. A tall Cypress can have as many as twelve nests around and vertically up the tree. Nests are made of large twigs and while large appear quite flimsy. Once the nests are built the pair begins mating to fertilize the eggs. Normal nests have 1 to 3 eggs. Mature Wood Storks utter no sounds but make a loud clacking of the beaks while mating and in squabbles over nests and nesting rights. Young woodstorks on the other hand and can be most noisy. They are seldom quiet once they are hatched.

[edit] Diet

It walks in shallow water to seek its prey; the diet includes fish, frogs and large insects.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at

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