I saw and photographed this pair of Wood Storks near the intersection of Six Mile Cypress Pkwy and Plantation Rd. in Ft. Myers. They were gathering with other wading birds to catch some small fish that were swimming by in a drainage canal that runs along the parkway. Wood Storks – (Mycteria Americana) are clumsy looking birds with large white bodies, bald heads, long curved bills and long legs. Wood Storks feed on small fish in a unique way by dipping their long bills into the water with their bill open and when they sense a small minnow or fish touching their bills they snap their bills shut in a nanosecond. It is this time of year in the fall and early winter when the water levels recede in the drainage swales, ponds and lakes and small fish are herded into a smaller area which makes them easier to catch for the Wood Storks. I have seen a great collection of Wood Storks, Great Egrets, Blue Herons, Spoon Bills and Glossy Ibis fishing and wading together.
The Wood Stork has been named a “threatened species” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hopefully their numbers will increase along with other threatened species as the state and environmental conservation groups work to preserve our parks and wetlands in Florida. The All About Birds website has some additional information and pictures of the Woodstork as well as an audio clip of their calls and sounds. I also like the Florida Audubon website which has a great supply of information about Florida’s Birds and conservation.