Birds of Seabrook Island

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  Wood Stork
 
 

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  Order Ciconiiformes - Wading Birds
   Family Ciconiidae - Storks
  Wading Birds are medium to large, long-legged and long necked. Their bills are long, straight, and sharp. Most species are dependent on water for feeding. Most nest in colonies - a few are solitary. Young remain in the nest after hatching and are cared for by both parents.
   The Tree of Life places herons and bitterns in the Pelecaniformes.
Storks and Jabirus are large wading birds with long, broad wings and a short, rounded tail. The face or head is bare in some species. Their bills are long, heavy and straight, without hooks. They occur through temperate Eurasia and Africa, northern Australia and south-eastern US through South America.
   Like Ibises, they fly with their necks extended and their feet trailing. They are colonial or solitary breeders and build a nest of sticks in trees, on cliffs, or on a building.                     .
  Soaring Birds
MORE (Order)      MORE (Family)
     
  Wood Stork, Mycteria americana 
 
Cornell     USGS     Wiki     ToL     EoL
        YEAR ROUND - Fairly common (fewer in winter) / Fairly common
            MARSHES (fresh or brackish), LAKES and PONDS (fresh water), FIELDS
MORE PICTURES
 
   Wood Storks are our only North American ciconiid. The nominate species, the White Stork, Ciconia ciconia - the legendary  deliverer of new-born human offspring - breeds in Europe and winters in Africa.
   Our Wood Storks (Wood Ibises in some older books) are large waders and are white except for the flight feathers of the wings and tail (but the coverts are white). Young have flesh-colored skin on part of the head - this becomes dark in adults. Storks fly with their head and feet extended.
Wood Stork
     
Flying Wood Stork, North Edisto River. Note black outer web on all wing feathers. Storks fly with their neck and feet extended (like ibises).
   
  RANGE: Wood Storks breed locally from coastal South Carolina and Georgia through Florida to the American tropics and West Indies. It is also found in Central and South America (to Argentina).
   With habitat destruction, breeding has moved north into the swamps of Georgia and South Carolina with an established population at Dungannon Plantation. 
  BREEDING: Monogamous. One brood. Storks build a platform nest with sticks and branches, furnished by the male, preferably in a large cypress standing in water. The female does most of the building. They continue to add to their nest throughout the breeding season. They are colonial with up to 25 nests/tree, sometimes touching. Storks lay 3-4 (2-5) eggs and both sexes incubate for 28-32 days. Development is semialtricial. Young are fed by both parents. One adult usually guards the nest for the first 5 weeks. Young may take short flights at 8 weeks of age but return to the nest to eat and sleep until about 11 weeks old. Young are able to fly after 55-60 days. Both sexes tend the young.
   Breeding in the species is dependent on availability of food - they will desert eggs and young if prolonged rain keeps the water levels high where they cannot easily catch fish (drought concentrates fish in smaller isolated ponds). In Florida, they may breed in winter or spring depending on water levels. As habitat has become reduced, storks have moved north into Georgia and South Carolina to breed. There is now an established colony at Dungannon Plantation Heritage Preserve near Hollywood, SC. See Fox, Lynda. 2009. A Wood Stork Grows Up. ISBN 1-4392-4539-8. Lynda follows storks through their breeding cycle at Dungannon.
  DIET: Storks eat fish and aquatic invertebrates including crustaceans and aquatic insects. They may also eat snakes, baby alligators, small turtles, frogs, and some plant material. They feed by moving their open bill in the water until it contacts prey which triggers a reflex bill-snap. They may shuffle while feeding to stir the substrate. They feed primarily in fresh water. They feed their young regurgitated fish. Note that they will feed with herons and ibises where food is abundant.
  VOICE: Usually silent after the first year. They may hiss and clatter their bills in nest displays.
  NOTES:
   Checklists -
      Seabrook. Kiawah - common spring through fall, uncommon winter. Edisto - summer.
      Coastal - fairly common summer resident, uncommon winter visitor. Hilton Head - fairly common permanent resident.
         Cape Romain
- common/common/common/uncommon.
         Huntington Beach
- uncommon April - July, common August - September, uncommon October, exceptional November.
      Caw Caw - uncommon/uncommon/uncommon/rare. ACE - common/common (breeds)/common/uncommon.
   CBC: ACE 46, 46, 24, 89, 49, 41, 16, 18; Charleston 6, 15, 1, 1, 0, 2, 2, 3;
            St. Helena/Fripp x, x, x, x, x, x, 45, 20; Hilton Head 15, 27, 27, 68, 69, 69, 51, 50; Sun City/Okatie 5, 10, 21, 71, 71, 29, 50, 24;
            McClellanville 59, 0, 45, 32, nc, 6, 12, 26; Winyah Bay x, x, 0, 36, 15, 11, 14, 34; Litchfield/Palwey's 0, 0, 2, 2, 2, 1, CW, 0.
   P&G: Locally fairly common in breeding season, uncommon in winter. First evidence of egg production in 1981, Colleton Co. Breeding population increased from 12 nests in 1981 to 194 nests in 3 colonies in 1987.
   M&P: Breeding populations continue to increase: 664 pairs nested in 3 colonies in Colleton Co. in 1991.
   Avendex: 38 records. Birds seen in every month but are more common from June through October.
  Avendex
     Potter: Locally fairly common summer resident and uncommon winter resident. First recorded breeding in the state in 1981, they now breed locally in swamps of the lower coastal plain in Hampton, Colleton, Charleston, and Georgetown County.
  ●   Wood Storks may appear anywhere on Seabrook (but are less common in mid-winter) - they are most likely to be seen flying over or feeding in our marshes and estuaries but tend to favor fresh-water habitats - you would not find them on the beach or in our estuaries but they do feed in salt marsh habitats. They may also be found in pastures and fields.
   Watch for soaring birds - white with black wing feathers - anywhere around the island. Particularly in the fall, they may appear in terrestrial habitats. I have seen individuals foraging on a bank in the Hidden Oaks area in the woods, one feeding along Seabrook Island Road near Bohicket Place ponds, and one feeding in the vernal pond where the Owner's boardwalk and the Ocean Pointe walks join. They are also regular in the marsh ponds beside and between Duneloft and Deer Pointe Villas and in and over the marshes between Capn' Sam's and Ocean Pointe - flying and feeding. Look for them feeding in the Jenkins Point marshes. They may ride thermals over Jenkins Point and Bohicket Creek in the summer. They are often solitary or in small groups. Kind of ugly but very interesting!
 
  See: Fox, L. 2009. A Wood Stork Grows Up. ISBN 1-4392-4539-8.
       
    Banner - Wood Storks. Bear Island WMA.
   
       
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