The Wood Stork is the only stork that breeds
in North America. It is found year-round in Florida and a few other
locations in the extreme southeast, although wandering individuals and small
groups may appear well north and west of its usual range. They are just
extremely rare visitors to South Dakota. Wood Storks are
currently at populations far below historical levels, primarily due to
disruption of normal water flows in south Florida and the resultant change in
its normal breeding habitat.
Habitat: Nests in cypress or mangrove stands, sometimes dead
trees in reservoirs. Primarily forages in freshwater marshes, ponds,
flooded fields, and flooded ditches.
Diet: Mostly fish. Also
crustaceans, snakes, turtles, lizards, small mammals, insects, and some plant
Behavior: Forages in
shallow water with bill partially open in the water, ready to snap shut when
contact is made with prey. Gregarious during the nesting season, breeding
Nesting: Non-breeder in South Dakota. In
their normal breeding range, Wood Storks are colonial nesters. The
nest itself is a platform of sticks that is lined with leaves and other
softer vegetative material. It is placed in a tree like a cypress or
mangrove. The female usually lays 3 or 4 eggs, and both parents help
to incubate them. When the eggs hatch, both parents help to feed the
Song: Generally silent.
Migration: Generally a permanent resident throughout it's range (southeastern coastline of
United States), but post-breeding dispersal does occasionally bring individuals
and small groups well to the north and west of its normal range.
Conservation Status: Populations are sharply lower than historical
levels. Alteration of water flows through southern Florida has had a
severe impact on breeding habitat. Wood Storks have recently expanded
their breeding range northward into the Carolinas, and there are other signs
of recovery in recent years. On a global level, the IUCN doesn't
consider threats to be sufficiently severe for the species to be listed as
threatened, and the
Wood Stork is thus listed as a species of "Least Concern".
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Wood Stork
Whatbird.com: Wood Stork
Photo Information: Photo taken on December 10th,
2012 - Big Cypress National Reserve, Florida - Terry Sohl