NORTH AMERICAN WOOD STORK
Scientific name: Mycteria americana
Photo: © 2004 Jeff Berger
The only stork found in North America is an endangered bird and one of my favorites. When walking or wading, they skulk around appearing serious and grim; I call them graveyard birds. When airborn, the wood stork is a truly magnificent flier - soaring from thermal to thermal on outstretched wings spanning five to six feet across. The nicknames “Flinthead” and “Ironhead” describe the slate-grey skin covering the neck and head.
Wood storks are especially susceptable to natural and man-made events. Storms and cold spells may lead to nest desertion. Racoons may predate eggs and fledglings. Major threats to long-term survival include loss of wetlands due to development and disruptive water management practices that alter their reproductive cycle.
Like other native birds, the wood stork depends upon gators to protect the breeding colony from tree-climbing predators.