Wood Stork Quick Reference
Worldwide, there are 17 species of storks, but the wood stork is
the only species found regularly in the U.S. They nest from South
Carolina south through Florida, Central and South America to northern
Characteristics of the wood stork vary from their youth to adulthood:
- Young storks have yellowish bills and feathered necks and heads,
at least until their third summer.
- Adult wood storks are over 3 feet tall with a wingspan of 5
Adults have dark, naked heads, bills and necks, and white plumage
trimmed in black. Males and females are very similar physically.
Wood storks nest in treetop colonies on islands and in swamps.
A wood stork catches fish and small aquatic animals by wading through
shallow water "fishing" with its bill. When a fish touches
it, the bill snaps shut in a rapid reflex.
Because of its feeding behavior, wood storks rely on the dense
population of prey found in seasonally drying wetland ponds and
sloughs during reproductive periods. Other times of the year they
search in shallow waters throughout the state.
A pair of wood storks needs about 440 pounds of fish during a breeding
season to feed themselves and their young.
From an estimated 60,000 wood storks in 1930, the population has
been reduced to 4,000 to 5,000 nesting pairs. The declines in recent
decades are the result of habitat disruption and loss of wetlands.