Skip Navigation

Species Search:
FieldGuidesthreatened and/or endangered search resultsthreatened and/or endangered

Wood Stork Mycteria americana


enlarge +

Wood Stork, adult
credit: Googie man/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

All Images

1 article:

Get Our Newsletters


Advanced Search

Family: Ciconiidae, Storks view all from this family

Description ADULT Has bald, dark head and neck and otherwise mostly white plumage, except for black flight feathers and tail; plumage contrast is most obvious in flight. Bill is dark and legs are dark with pinkish feet. JUVENILE Similar in terms of plumage overall, but has grubby feathers on head and neck, and yellowish bill. Acquires plumage and appearance of adult over 4 years.

Dimensions Length: 40-44" (1-1.1 m)Wngspn:. 5' 6" (1.7 m)

Endangered Status The Wood Stork is on the U.S. Endangered Species List. It is classified as endangered in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The numbers of these large wading birds have declined drastically in recent years due to land development, logging, and draining of their feeding grounds. There were an estimated 20,000 breeding pairs in the 1930s, breeding throughout much of the southeast as far West as Texas. Today's population of breeding pairs is approximately 5,000. While Wood Stork rookeries have been protected in recent years, it is the loss of feeding habitat that has dealt the blow to this species. It has been estimated that a pair of storks and their young require some 440 pounds of fish during the breeding season, so adequate feeding grounds are a necessity.

Habitat Local resident in coastal swamps in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina; sometimes wanders inland and away from favored habitats after breeding has finished. Endangered, notably by manipulation of water levels by man.

Observation Tips Still easy to view in Florida's Everglades.

Range Southwest, Southeast, California, Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Plains, Texas, Rocky Mountains

Voice Utters various cackles, hisses, and grunts at nest, but otherwise silent.

Discussion Large and impressive wetland bird with a long, thick bill that is slightly downcurved at tip, and very long, powerful legs. Bald head and neck of adult is distinctive and black and white plumage is striking both in flight and at rest. Perches on dead branches and builds large stick nests in trees. Feeds on fish and other aquatic animals by wading in water, sweeping bill from side-to-side and catching prey upon contact. Late winter colonial breeding is timed to coincide with seasonal drying of pools and concentration of food. Flies with head, neck, and legs held outstretched and soars and glides with ease. Sexes are similar.