The Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) is a large wading bird that is found in the southeastern United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Adult Wood Storks are typically 35-45 inches in length, with a wingspan of 5-6 feet, and they weigh between 5-7 pounds. They have a distinctive appearance, with a bald, black head and neck, a long, thick bill, and white plumage on their body and wings.
One of the most distinguishing field marks of the Wood Stork is its bald, black head and neck. This unique feature is thought to help the bird regulate its body temperature in hot and humid climates. Their bill is long, thick, and slightly curved, with a sharp tip that is used to catch fish and other prey. The Wood Stork has a broad, white belly, and the wings are predominantly white with black tips.
Wood Storks are non-migratory birds, meaning they do not make long-distance seasonal migrations like many other bird species. However, they are known to move around within their range in search of food and suitable breeding habitats. During the breeding season, which typically occurs from December to June, they can be found in wetlands and marshes throughout their range, nesting in large colonies with other wading bird species.
The Wood Stork is considered a threatened species, with populations declining in recent decades due to habitat loss and changes in water flow patterns caused by human activities. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has implemented conservation measures to protect the species, including habitat restoration and management programs, as well as captive breeding and reintroduction efforts in certain areas.
Despite their threatened status, the Wood Stork is a fascinating and important bird species, with a unique appearance and ecology. As top predators in wetland ecosystems, they play a critical role in maintaining the balance of these fragile habitats, making their conservation and protection crucial for the health of both the birds and the ecosystems they inhabit.