What a lovely grouping of wood storks, illustrating well their very social nature; they feed, breed, and congregate together: characteristics that put them in the category of “colonial wading birds.” The balance and design, the slanting leg, curved wing, curved bill, make the eye flow around from bird to bird. The lovely golden glow…resonates in the grass, the water, and the heads, while the touches of pink (in the feet, bills, some water reflections) and black (water, head, wing, legs) unite the birds, making it an interesting and artistic photograph.
The graceful wing highlights such an important part of this bird, when phenomenally flying hundreds of feet up in the thermals, and soaring in circles along with vultures, an eagle or anhinga…. look carefully for the white bird with extended neck, black head, bill and legs. The wings are black across the entire trailing edge (primaries, secondaries and tertials) as is the tail. White pelicans have only black primaries and secondaries in the wing and also soar on the wind currents but are more likely to fly as a pair or group, turning in unison.
Foraging techniques require fish and other aquatic tidbits concentrated in 6-8″ water (nesting occurs as water levels fall in winter). Wood storks wade with long legs and use their long bills like a spring trap, opening it in the water until sensing a minnow’s touch, then, snapping it shut in as little as 25 milliseconds–an incredibly quick reaction time matched by few other vertebrates.
In 1984, the USFWS listed wood storks as an endangered species though they nest and seem abundant in Indian River County. Their total numbers have declined because of wetland destruction and especially logging of the mature cypress trees that were their nesting areas. Let’s work together to protect these important habitats in our county
Coordinator for the PIAS Photo of the Month