It’s nesting season at Wakodahatchee, so though I posted about this lovely local spot in January, I’ve got a quick update here…
These strange looking birds are Wood Storks. Not the storks classically associated with delivering babies (those are White Storks), but they are related, and are certainly big enough to carry a small package, standing 4 feet tall with up to 6-foot wingspans. They, along with several other species, are nesting right now and it’s quite a show to see and hear (and smell)!
There are hundreds of these birds all tending their nests. The watchful parents take turns leaping off to forage for fish and frogs in the shallow marshes, returning to regurgitate the slimy goo for their squawking babies. They also return with newly gathered sticks to continue to fortify the structure supporting the new family members. And of course, each must stand guard against predators – vultures, grackles, raccoons – eager to snatch the vulnerable chicks or unhatched eggs. It looks exhausting!
This is the only species of stork to nest in North America, establishing rookeries in the sub-tropical regions of Georgia, North & South Carolina, and yes, Florida. Though once classified as “endangered,” after three decades of conservation efforts (like the created wetlands at Wakodahatchee), the Wood Stork was upgraded to “threatened” in 2014. A small success story to brighten your day.