Where can I see them?
The historic breeding range of the Woodstock in the US extended from eastern Texas through the southern tier of the Gulf coast states, but has always occurred on the Florida peninsula. Since the 1930s, development has reduced wetlands size and the construction of canals, levees, and floodgates to drain and control water flow manipulates the natural flow and disturbs breeding populations.
Storks are highly colonial and nest in large rookeries, their breeding cycles are completely dependent on weather and environmental conditions. Colonies nest between November and May. Courting rituals include preening, bill clapping, dancing and then the male presents a stick to the female. If the stick is approved by the female, this becomes the first stick in the breeding pair's nest. Nest construction takes about three days, comprised of sticks, vines, leaves, and lined with Spanish moss. Storks lay two to five eggs, and successful nests will fledge two young birds in good conditions.
Woodstocks feed on small fish from 1-6 inches in length. Their specialized feeding technique known as grope-feeding or tacto-location occurs in water 6-10 inches deep where storks can use their partially open bill to probe. Their bills contain sensitive nerve endings that tell the bill to shut when something makes contact with it. Their bill will quickly snap shut on average of 25 milliseconds, one of the fastest reflexes known to all vertebrates.
The health and reproduction of these southern colonies of Woodstorks dramatically depends on wetland restoration and natural water flow through the cypress swamp.
What do they look like?
Did You Know?
Airboats are one of the approved ways to access remote areas of Big Cypress National Preserve. Remember, all off-road vehicle access requires a valid permit, and visitors operating ORVs need to know the legal areas they can operate.