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Wood Stork
Mycteria americana

Ciconiiforme Order – Ciconiidae Family

Length: 85-115 cm 
Wingspan: 150-175 cm 
Weight: 2050-2640 g

LONGEVITY: up to 10 years

Wood Stork is a large long-legged bird. It has black flight feathers and tail, contrasting with white body.
Adult has bald, blackish-grey head, with scaling-looking on head and neck.
Bill is blackish, long, thick and down curved. Eyes are dark. Legs are blackish. Feet are reddish-brown.
Both sexes are similar.

Juvenile has feathered greyish brown head, and yellow bill.

Chicks are covered with white down at hatching.

Wood Stork is very quiet bird, usually silent. Sometimes, we can hear some croak, like a bullfrog, or hiss like a snake.

Wood Stork lives in wet meadows, swamps, ponds and coastal shallows.
Wood Stork breeds from southeast of United States, Florida, Caribbean, Central and South America, to northern Argentina.
It is resident in breeding areas.

Wood Stork is a wading bird. It walks along, slowly, in shallow waters, searching for food. It hunts its preys (fish, tadpoles, crayfish) by wading with its open bill, just under the water surface, and when a fish passes and touches it, it snaps its bill shut very quickly, and catches the prey. It hunts by touch with its beak. They feed in flocks.

Courtship display performed by the male before nest building include vocalizes and protection of the nest site. Female may display with the male. Pair is only formed for one season. Wood Stork is monogamous.
They defecate on their legs to provide cool, and their dark legs appear white.
Wood Stork is gregarious bird, living in small to very large flocks, and they nest in large colonies.

Wood Stork is a diurnal bird, but it often leaves the roost at night, to hunt during nocturnal low tides.

Wood Stork can glide for long time on warm currents at up to 300 metres or more, and sometimes it dives and flips, as it soars down from high in the sky.
Wood Stork flies with slow wing beats, with their long and broad wings, soaring and circling like hawks.
It is an unbelievable acrobat when performs turns, dives and rolls.
Wood Stork flies with outstretched head and legs.

Wood Stork nests in large colonies. Nesting period varies geographically. Breeding is synchronized with wetland cycles, when food is most plentiful for raising the young.
Nest is often situated in upper branches of large trees (cypresses) in mangroves on islands, to up 30 metres above the ground. We can find several nests in the same tree.
Nest is built by the pair with sticks, vines, leaves and Spanish moss. It is a shallow cup, as a kind of platform.
Female lays 2 to 5 creamy white eggs, one or two days apart. Incubation lasts about 28 to 32 days, shared by both parents.
Chicks hatch altricial. Nestlings differ in size during the first few weeks, and if competition for food occurs, only the oldest chick will survive.
When chicks are one week old, parents feed them 15 times a day by regurgitation. Adults take turns to protect nest and young, and to fly to feeding grounds at about 80 miles away.
Parents provide shade to their young by spreading their wings, and carrying water on their throats, to dribble it over the chicks.
Young fledge at about 9 weeks of age. They reach their sexual maturity at 4 years old.
This species produces only one brood per season.

Wood Stork feeds mainly on fishes, but also on aquatic invertebrates and organisms, such as insects, crayfishes, shrimps, crabs, amphibians, snakes, small alligators, and sometimes small birds and mammals.


Wood Storks are threatened by pesticides, and collisions with human structures. This species is in decline because it lacks of food, caused by drainage of wetlands and habitat loss.
Wood Stork is the symbol of Florida disappearing wetlands.
Chicks are threatened by raccoons that climb to the nest.
Wood Stork is designated an endangered species in south-eastern of United States since 1984.

Fr: Tantale d’Amérique
All : Waldstorch
Esp : Tántalo Americano
Ital : Tantalo americano
Nd : Kaalkopooievaar
Sd : Amerikansk ibisstork  

Photos de Bob Moul
Son site: Nature Photography

Texte de Nicole Bouglouan

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

FIELD GUIDE TO THE BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA by National Geographic Society - National Geographic Society - ISBN: 0792274512

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

All About Birds (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

Animal Diversity Web (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)

What Bird-The ultimate Bird Guide (Mitchell Waite)

Wikipedia (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)


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