Species Identification - Birds

Wood Stork- Mycteria americana

Family: Storks


Description: One of only two storks that reside in North America, and the only stork to breed in the U.S., the wood stork was downgraded from endangered to threatened status on June 26, 2014, after thirty years of conservation efforts. The wood storks are large birds, standing 33-45 inches with wingspans of 55-71 inches. Exceptionally large males can weigh up to ten pounds. The wood stork appears all white on the ground, with blackish-gray legs and pink feet. In flight, the trailing edge of the wings is black and the bare head is dark brown with a bald spot. It has a long, thick down-curved bill which helps distinguish it from other large waders. It flies with its neck outstretched and legs extended, looking a little like a wooden marionette.

Range: The wood stork breeds in much of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. The primary breeding population in the U.S. is on the coasts of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The Hunting Island area is a good place to see them. The wood stork favors cypress trees in marshes, swamps, lowland wetlands with trees. It builds a large stick nest in the trees.

Photos by Carl Berube

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