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Endangered Wood Storks

WOOD STORK (Mycteria americana)

 

Description:
It’s not often that you see a large uncommon bird, then do a “double-take” as it bears a strange resemblance to something prehistoric. In all likelihood you’ve just spotted a Wood Stork – the only member of the stork species that breeds in North America. From a distance, the Wood Stork will resemble a larger version of the Ibis, with their curved beaks, and their flight conformation with necks
stretched out in front of them (unlike herons who keep their heads pulled back close to their body).
The Wood Stork is a large wading bird with a wingspan of 60-65 inches with “primary” wing feathers and tail feathers being black and the body feathers being white. It’s most prominent characteristic, however, is the head and upper neck of the adult bird – there are no feathers but, rather, dark gray, rough, scaly skin and a large, curved beak, also black. Keeping with the color scheme, the legs are dark
with pink-hued toes. It often seems that the larger the bird, the less “musical” the call. This stork goes one step further – the adult is voiceless and is only able to make a hissing noise – or a loud “clacking” of its bill (nestlings have a range of sounds). The name given to a group of Wood Storks is “muster”.
Behavior:

Non-breeding Wood Storks have a wide range including all of North America and as far south as northern Argentina in South America. Breeding, however, occurs in Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina. They can inhabit both freshwater and estuarine marshes with water depths of 2-15 inches for foraging. These needs mean that mixed hardwood swamps, sloughs, mangroves, and cypress strands are primary nesting places. They are a social bird and form breeding “colonies”. Wood storks (in Florida) lay their eggs from October to June. The males gather the sticks used in the nests located primarily in trees in standing water. They will produce one clutch per year of 2 to 5 eggs, with an average incubation time of 30 days. The young storks will be able to fly in 10-12 weeks and once they leave the nest, they’re on their own.  They forage by moving their large bill, partially open, through the water and snap up any prey encountered – mainly small to medium-sized fish, crayfish, amphibians, and reptiles. You may also see them using their feet to stir up the prey they will then snap up with one of the fastest reflex movements found among animals.
Threats:
The main threat to the Wood Stork is loss of habitat. In Florida this is primarily due to agricultural expansion, development, and alteration of “hydrocycles” (normal flooding to increase prey population and natural drawdown to concentrate that population). Draining of cypress stands presents a particular challenge in that it interferes with nesting and increases predation. Wood Storks are a Federally and Florida Endangered species and are protected by those laws and regulations. They are also protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird
Treaty Act.All of the above information was gleaned from the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission” website – a wealth of information!
https://myfwc.com/


The Wood Stork FAQ section on the website will answer a variety of
questions…my favorite being “do wood storks deliver babies?” We’ll let you find the answer!
https://myfwc.com/research/wildlife/birds/wood-storks/faq/

Photo credits go to Kathy Abbott.

Please do consider making a donation to the Wildlife Center of Venice.  A couple of bucks can go a very long way to feeding recovering wildlife as they recover.

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Endangered Roseate Spoonbill

 

ROSEATE SPOONBILL (Platalea ajaja)
Description:
Seeing the Roseate spoonbill in the wild is always a beautiful treat! The pink, red, and white bird is the only “spoonbill” that is native in the Western Hemisphere.  (Often misidentified as flamingos which live further south).  It’s a large wading bird with a wingspan of 50-53 inches and a length of 30-40 inches. Similar to the Wood Stork and the vulture, they have no feathers on their head, their wings and under-body are pink, with some red on the tops of thewing, their neck and back are white and they pinkish legs and feet. They get their name from their large spoon-shaped bill and the coloration which comes from their diet. The name given to a group of Roseate spoonbills is a “Bowl”.
Behavior:

Roseate spoonbills feed by using their large bill to sweep through the shallow water, stirring up their prey. Their diet consists primarily of crayfish, shrimp, crabs, and small fish. They nest in “mixed colonies” with other wading birds in mangroves or marsh-like areas – generally on the coast, although some can befound inland. While there is no visible difference between male and female – they have different “jobs”. The male spoonbills collect the materials for the nest and the females build the deep branch and twig next to their satisfaction. They will have a clutch of up to 5 eggs and both parents will incubate the eggs for approx. 24 days.  After hatching, the young will remain in the nest for 35-42 days and will be fed by both parents. At about 4 weeks, the nestling will begin building strength by climbing through the branches of the nest and by about 6 weeks will have wing feathers large enough to fly.  In Florida, the main nesting areas are in Florida Bay, Tampa Bay, and Brevard County. Florida is the northernmost breeding area for the Roseate spoonbill, however the they also establish colonies in coastal Central and South America along the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico as far west as coastal Texas and
western Louisiana.

 

Threats:
Historically, the major threat to the Roseate spoonbill was hunting for their feathers – the species was at the brink of extinction in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s due to hunting for and collection of the beautiful feathers. Hunting was outlawed in 1918 under the Migratory Bird Treaty and this allowed the species to
survive and grow in numbers.  Like most of our threatened and endangered species, habitat destruction and degradation, along with declining food sources are the major threats to their
continued survival. Other threats include pesticides, pollution and illegal hunting.  Roseate spoonbills are listed as a “State Species of Special Concern” and are  protected under the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

 

The above information was gleaned from the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission” website – a wealth of information!
https://myfwc.com/

Photo credits go to Kathy Abbott.

 

AND from the Audubon Field Guide https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/roseate-spoonbill AND from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute
https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/roseate-spoonbill

Please do consider making a donation to the Wildlife Center of Venice.  A couple of bucks can go a very long way to feeding recovering wildlife as they recover.

Donate