A few days ago, I looked out the window and there were six Wood Storks (also called Wood Ibis)landing on limbs of a large, dead tree. It is very encouraging to see so many of the storks here on the island because they are on the endangered species list.
The Wood Stork is one of the largest wading birds in North America and the only Stork in the U.S. The adults stand a little over 3 feet, with a wing span of over 5 feet. It is white with a bald and grayish head. It's tail, legs and the flight feathers are black. The bill is pale yellow, curves downward and grows to around 9 inches long. On average they weigh around 7 pounds. Their weight limits their flight distance, but they can be rather acrobatic when they are descending. As these birds were landing on the tree limbs, their long legs made them look a little awkward to me. :-) They had a little trouble keeping their balance because their weight made the limbs bounce up and down. I kept watching, expecting a dead limb to break, but none did.
They prefer to live in wetlands, feeding in fresh, brackish, or salt water. They prefer to feed in shallow water by submerging their beak 2 or 3 inches in the water and feeling for fish passing by. Their nests are built very high in the tops of trees or shrubs and they like to nest in colonies. Females lay up to 5 eggs and both parents incubate the eggs for around 30 days and care for the young. Their diet consists of fish, crayfish, amphibians, snakes and young aligators.
It is understandable that Sanibel Island is a good home for the Wood Storks because it is a National Wildlife Refuge and Bird Sanctuary. Everything they need is here.