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Species Description

Wood Stork

Mycteria americana


Species Image

Classification

Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Ciconiidae

Description

White body. Black tail, legs, and flight feathers. 102 cm (40 in) long; 155 cm (61 in) wingspan. The combination of a grayish, bald head and a large yellow down-curved bill is distinctive for this species.

Life Cycle

The Wood Stork does not breed until it is 4 years old. The breeding season begins in mid-December, peaks in mid-March, and ends in late April. This is a highly colonial species, nesting in aggregations. It prefers to nest in cypress trees, from 15-24 m (50-80 feet) above the ground. The male and female build the nest with sticks, twigs, and vegetation. The female usually lays 3 eggs that are incubated by both adults for 28-32 days. The young are semi-altricial, and are cared for by the parents until 55-60 days after hatching.

Natural History

The Wood Stork does not breed until it is 4 years old. The breeding season begins in mid-December, peaks in mid-March, and ends in late April. This is a highly colonial species, nesting in aggregations. It prefers to nest in cypress trees, from 15-24 m (50-80 feet) above the ground. The male and female build the nest with sticks, twigs, and vegetation. The female usually lays 3 eggs that are incubated by both adults for 28-32 days. The young are semi-altricial, and are cared for by the parents until 55-60 days after hatching.

Range

Wood Stork Region Map In the United States, the Wood Stork remains all year in isolated coastal areas of the Southeast. After the breeding season, some individuals travel north beyond the normal range in a post-breeding dispersal. In Georgia during the breeding season, adults can be found in coastal areas, with post-breeding individuals being seen sporadically in the lower three-fourths of the state.

Conservation Status

The Wood Stork is Federally listed as Endangered, and is also state listed as Endangered in Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina. The destruction of nesting areas and changes in land use and water levels in Florida wetlands have attributed to the decline of this species.

Similar Species

Some Egrets and Herons are similar in size to the Wood Stork, but all other species lack the combination of the large yellow downcurved bill, bald head, and black tail and flight feathers.