Not the prettiest bird I’ve ever seen! They are huge birds! Very long-legged with a very heavy bill. I found these down in Florida, US. They nest in trees, preferably in stands of tall cypress. When I saw these they were nesting with a large colony of other Wood Storks as well as colonies of egrets. Their nests were very low in short trees. They can be as low as only 10-15 feet above the water. I’ve seen them nesting with egrets at Huntington Beach State Park in South Carolina, US too. These nests were high up in the trees, they can build nests as high up as 80 feet or higher above the water.
This is the only native stork in North America. They wade in the shallow waters, preferring to forage in mainly fresh water, such as marshes, ponds, ditches, lagoons and occasionally flooded farm fields. Will forage by wading in the shallow water with their head down. They’ll keep their bill in the water slightly opened, then they quickly shut it when they catch prey. Mostly they eat fish, but they’ve been known to eat snakes, baby alligators, frogs, turtles, crayfish and crabs!
Due to the destruction of habitat and disruption of water flow throughout southern Florida, the Wood Stork has had a horrible decline! At one time the population in the southeastern US was reported as over 150,000, but by the beginning of the 1990s there was reported to be only around 10,000!!! In 1984 the Wood Stork was placed on the endangered species list, but more recently it has been taken off the list. After a successful three-decade conservation effort that has seen the population spread through the Southeast, US. I’ve seen some of these birds that have relocated further up north to South Carolina, finding new breeding sites. Hopefully this shift in their range will help their population continue to grow!