Wood stork

Mycteria americana

The wood stork is a large American wading bird in the family Ciconiidae . It was formerly called the "wood ibis", though it is not an ibis. It is found in subtropical and tropical habitats in the Americas, including the Caribbean.
Woodstork Pair Taken S Florida, USA Mycteria americana,Wood stork

Appearance

The adult wood stork is a large bird which stands 83 to 115 cm tall with a wingspan of 140 to 180 cm. The male typically weighs 2.5 to 3.3 kg, with a mean weight of 2.7 kg; the female weighs 2.0 to 2.8 kg, with a mean weight of 2.42 kg.

Another estimate puts the mean weight at 2.64 kg. The head and neck of the adult are bare, and the scaly skin is a dark grey. The black downward-curved bill is long and very wide at the base. The plumage is mostly white, with the primaries, secondaries, and tail being black and having a greenish and purplish iridescence. The legs and feet are dark, and the flesh-coloured toes are pink during the breeding season. The sexes are similar.

Newly hatched chicks have a sparse coat of grey down that is replaced by a dense, wooly, and white down in about 10 days. Chicks grow fast, being about half the height of adults in three to four weeks. By the sixth and seventh weeks, the plumage on the head and neck turns smokey grey. When fledged, they resemble the adult, differing only in that they have a feathered head and a yellow bill.
Wood_Stork_on_Descent                                 Mycteria americana,Wood stork

Naming

The wood stork was first formally described and given its binomial name ''Mycteria americana'' by Linnaeus in 1758. Linnaeus based his description on a misplaced account and illustration in ''Historia Naturalis Brasiliae'' of the jabiru-guacu. Linnaeus also described ''Tantalus loculator'', which was proven to also apply to the jabiru-guacu, after ''M. americana'' based on a 1731 illustration of the wood stork by Mark Catesby under the name of wood pelican.
Close-up of a wood stork The wood stork was removed from the endangered list in June of 2014 but is still a threatened species.  I wanted to show the detail of the face/plumage demonstrating the reason they were named wood stork which is due to the bark-like appearance of their head.  They are always difficult to shoot with detail because of the white plummet and dark head, but I succeeded in my goal here. Mycteria americana,Wood Stork,endangered species,fishing birds,large birds,stork,stork portrait,threatened species,wading birds,wood stork

Distribution

This is a subtropical and tropical species which breeds in much of South America, Central America and the Caribbean. The wood stork is the only stork that breeds in North America. In the United States there are small breeding populations in Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas. In South America, it is found south to northern Argentina. Some populations in North America disperse after breeding, frequently to South America.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)  in flight This Wood Stork was resting on a tree yet as we approached it took of in our direction, which gave us the opportunity for this action shot. Birds,Brazil,Flight,Mycteria americana,Pantanal,Stork,Wood Stork

Status

Globally, the wood stork is considered least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its large range. In the United States, this bird is considered to be threatened. This is a recovery from its former status as endangered, which it held from 1984 to 2014 because of a decline in its population caused by habitat loss and drought. Similarly, in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil, its decline seems to have been reversed: after an absence between the late 1960s and the mid-1990s, the species is now again regularly encountered there, in particular in the Tubarão River region. It is likely that the Paraná River region's wetlands served as a stronghold of the species, from where it is now re-colonizing some of its former haunts.
Wood Stork in Flight                  Taken over Wakadohatchee Wetlands, South Florida, USA               Mycteria americana,Wood Stork

Habitat

This stork is able to adapt to a variety of tropical and subtropical wetland habitats having fluctuating water levels. It nests in trees that are over water or surrounded by water. In freshwater habitats, it primarily nests in forests dominated by trees of the genus ''Taxodium'', while in estuaries, it generally nests on trees in the mangrove forests.

To feed, the wood stork uses freshwater marshes in habitats with an abundance of ''Taxodium'' trees, while in areas with mangrove forests, it uses brackish water. Areas with more lakes attract feeding on lake, stream, and river edges.
Landing wood stork A spectacular wood stork coming in for a landing Mycteria americana,Wood Stork,birds,endangered species,fishing birds,shore birds,stork,threatened species,wading birds,wood stork

Reproduction

A resident breeder in lowland wetlands with trees, the wood stork builds a large stick nest in a tree. In freshwater habitats, it prefers to nest in trees that are larger in diameter. It nests colonially, with up to 25 nests in one tree. The height of these nests is variable, with some nests located in shorter mangrove trees being at heights of about 2.5 metres, compared to a height of about 6.5 metres for taller mangrove trees. For ''Taxodium'' trees, it generally nests near the top branches, frequently between 18 and 24 metres above the ground. On the tree itself, forks of large limbs or places where multiple branches cross are usually chosen.

The nest itself is built by the male from sticks and green twigs collected from the colony and the surrounding area. The greenery usually starts to be added before the eggs are laid but after the main structure of twigs is completed. The frequency at which it is added decreases after the eggs hatch. This greenery functions to help insulate the nest. When complete, the nest is about one metre in diameter, with a central green area having an average diameter of about 28 centimetres. The thickness of the edge of the nest usually measures from 12 to 20 centimetres.

Wood storks without a nest occasionally try to take over others' nests. Such nest take-overs are performed by more than one bird. The young and eggs are thrown out of the nest within about 15 minutes. If only one stork is attending the nest when it is forced out, then it usually waits for its mate to try to take the nest back over.
Wood Stork Landing                                Taken near Wakadohatchee Wetlands, South Florida, USA Mycteria americana,Wood Stork

Food

During the dry season, the wood stork eats mostly fish, supplemented by insects. During the wet season, on the other hand, fish make up about half the diet, crabs make up about 30%, and insects and frogs make up the rest.
Wood Storks, Uraba, Colombia Here we are at the end of the canal of Uraba, into a tidal area close to the open sea. This twilight zone attracts a large amount of large water birds, including these storks. I'm not sure if they're drinking or feeding. Antioquia,Colombia,Colombia Choco & Pacific region,Fall,Geotagged,Mycteria americana,South America,Uraba,Urabá,Wood stork,World

Predators

Raccoons are predators of wood stork chicks, especially during dry periods where the water beneath nesting trees dries up. Where it occurs, the crested caracara is a significant predator of eggs. Other caracaras, and hawks and vultures, also prey on both eggs and chicks.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassAves
OrderCiconiiformes
FamilyCiconiidae
GenusMycteria
SpeciesM. americana