Wood Storks Return to South Florida

Wood Stork -- Tree Walkers
It’s always great when a bird species on the brink of extinction, headed that way anyway, returns to flourish. One such species is the Wood Stork, (Mycteria americana) also commonly known as Flinthead, Wood Ibis, Wood Pelican or Colorado Turkey. Wood Storks are found along the coastal areas of South Carolina, Georgia and Central and Southern Florida. Wood Storks were listed as an “endangered species” since 1984 due to the severe drop in population in the 1900’s. I can’t tell you the exact date (1998-1999) but I remember a news report from Orlando about the killing of huge numbers of wood storks, pelicans, and great blue herons when they ate fish from Lake Apopka tainted with OCP, a rather nasty pesticide left by the agriculture industry. Personally, I believe that event was the demise of the main flocks historically seen in South Florida during certain times of the year.

Wood Storks in Wakodahatchee
The good news is the Wood Storks are returning to South Florida and I’ve seen many more this year along the Tamiami Trail north into Palm Beach, and Loxahatchee than I”ve seen since that Apopka event. Two weeks ago while at Wakodahatchee taking pictures, a group of Flintheads flew in on the tree tops and settled in. Last weekend on a return visit we noticed at least 3 pairs foraging for sticks. They would snap them off the limb with their beak then fly them to a nest site in the south-east rookery. Many cheers have gone up as bird lovers from all over South Florida and beyond as they gather to watch, photograph and enjoy our new avian neighbors.

Welcome home, we hope you can live here in peace and abundance.

Let me take this opportunity to thank those responsible for both Wakodahatchee and Green Cay in Palm Beach County. These places are not only a wonderful place for our wildlife to live again but a great place for those of us who love seeing and being a part of nature can enjoy their company.