Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wood Stork

The only stork and the largest wading bird that breeds in the United States, the Wood Stork is found in the Southeast, as well as coastal Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Due to the degradation of the Everglades, Wood Stork populations have significantly declined since the 1960s. As south Florida populations decreased, Wood Storks are more often seen north into northern Florida and coastal South Carolina.  Breeding success has been limited in these northern areas. We found these storks along the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park (top and bottom photos) and in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Neither area should be missed by visiting birders.

Since I photographed many Florida birds during our trip in 2010, this year I attempted to take some photos showing birds "artistic" poses.  The photo above is a result.  I purposefully centered the shot on the eye, cutting off the tip of the bill and the body.  If nothing else, you can see the origin of the Wood Stork's folk name of Ironhead or Flinthead.
Wood Storks are tactile feeders, they capture food by feeling with their bills  Although they can feed visually, tactile feeding allows them to forage in murky wetlands, without depending on sight. As you can see in the photo below, this Wood Stork is feeding with its bill completely hidden. (Much of the information in this post is gleaned from Coulter et. al 1999).

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