On my annual trip to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park, I witnessed something for the first time. Eight wood storks were roosting in a single tree! I frequently see one or two in Pelican Bay or on the golf course, but I have never seen so many of them together, and I had never seen them in a tree. This remarkable scene was a distance away, but my Sony lens has a 400mm reach.
As soon as a Great Blue Heron flew into the space shared by the Woodstork and the Anhinga, tensions rose. The Woodstork had enough, and sent a clear message to the Anhinga, “Back off. I need some space!”
The Woodstork and the Anhinga got along really well on the lakeside… until they didn’t.
December greetings! I’m back in Florida with my camera pointed at the wildlife and tropical landscape. On a recent morning, I spotted this Woodstork and Anhinga foraging along the water’s edge, and I watched for awhile to observe their interactions.
The Woodstork yawned, and I wondered if birds (like dogs) yawn to express anxiety. My imagination is often thinking like a storyteller, and these words came to my mind: “And the Woodstork said to the Anhinga…” I wondered what he would have said?
Wood storks are an uncommon bird. They were once endangered, but now the species has been upgraded to “threatened.” This time of year (February) most of them are sitting on their nests, so they are not out and about and easy to find.
This wood stork was preening its feathers on the Royal Poinciana Golf Club early Monday morning. We can’t tell if it is male or female, for the birds offer no outward signs of their sex. Perhaps it will pick up some fish as take-out dinner to take back to the nest.
My dog Sophie can’t believe how big the birds are in Florida. Yes, that’s a six-pound wood stork over there! And looking at its fuzzy head, I can tell it’s a juvenile. This bashful bird is wary of the photographer inching along the grass to come just a little bit closer. He is one of a threatened species, the only breeding stork in North America, found in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. His biggest predator is the raccoon, who steals eggs from its nest.
Wood storks wade in lowland wetlands and look for fish, frogs and insects to eat. They shuffle their webbed feet in the shallow water to stir any aquatic critters to move, and then keep their bills in the water to catch dinner. That is a blue heron standing behind the wood stork.
In my neighborhood in Naples, Florida, the wood stork shares the swamp with numerous heron, ibis, egrets, turtles, fish and alligators. Sophie, you’re not in Pennsylvania anymore.