By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger, editors @Blogfinger (original post Jan 2014)
Wood storks are on the endangered list. They are tropical and semitropical birds, but they can be found in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. These birds are huge, being about 3-4 feet tall, with a wing span of 5-6 feet. They have pink feet, black heads, long curved black bills and black under their white wings.
They like to feed in open wetlands and wade in shallow water to find fish, frogs and bugs. They like swamps, marshes and mangroves for that, but they breed and nest where there are tall trees, preferably cypress forests where there can be 25 nests in one tree. They are very sensitive to fluctuating water levels which occur wherever there is more development. They are known to fly long distances, up to 80 miles, to find sufficient fish for their babies which get large very quickly. The female usually lays 3-5 eggs.
The largest nesting area in the world is near us in the Corkscrew Sanctuary in Naples. We visited there yesterday (see photos below,) but weren’t allowed near the nesting areas. Nevertheless, the National Audubon Society maintains a beautiful refuge there where a variety of wild life can be seen, including still-frozen tourists from -30 degree Minnesota as well as those from New Jersey who are seeking good bagels. We saw baby alligators and a variety of birds. The gators were about 2 feet long–two lying on a log perfectly still.
We found 8 wood storks, see above, in our backyard a few days ago. They are in the wild and they like to hang out with a group of egrets. It looked like a Rotary meeting. Two of the storks did a brief mating dance. I was able to approach them, but when I got too close, they just walked slowly away in the other direction as if to say “Buzz off, pal!”
JULIE ANDREWS “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins.