83–115 cm (32¾-45¼ in)
White overall plumage
Dark brown head
Bald, black face
Dusky yellow thick down-curved bill
Juvenile birds are a duller version of the adult, generally browner on the neck, and with a paler bill.
The trailing edge of the wings is black
Breeds in North America in southern Georgia and throughout Florida and rarely also in South Carolina and on the Gulf Coast west to Texas. Also breeds on both coasts of Mexico and Central America, in the Caribbean on Cuba and Hispaniola, and in South America west of the Andes from Colombia and Venezuela south to Uruguay and north-east Argentina.
Northern birds undergo post-breeding dispersal and become more widespread in the southern USA as far as southern California, in Mexico and the West Indies. Wandering birds sometimes move further north along coasts and river valleys. Southernmost breeders probably undergo similar movements.
Freshwater marshes and wooded swamps, particularly Cypress swamps in the USA. Also occurs in coastal marshes and lagoons.
They are colonial nesters. Nesting season (Florida USA) begins in March and runs through July. Wood Storks prefer a Cypress stand surrounded by water and the presence of alligators. This keeps raccons from raiding the nests for eggs. Nests are built next to the Cypress trunk or very close in on branches. A tall Cypress can have as many as twelve nests around and vertically up the tree. Nests are made of large twigs and while large appear quite flimsy. Once the nests are built the pair begins mating to fertilize the eggs. Normal nests have 1 to 3 eggs. Mature birds utter no sounds but make a loud clacking of the beaks while mating and in squabbles over nests and nesting rights. Young woodstorks on the other hand and can be most noisy. They are seldom quiet once they are hatched.
They hunt in shallow water for fish, such as sunfish and catfish, frogs and large insects.
Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
Coulter, M. C., J. A. Rodgers Jr., J. C. Ogden, and F. C. Depkin (2020). Wood Stork (Mycteria americana), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.woosto.01
Birdforum Member observations
BirdForum Opus contributors. (2024) Wood Stork. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 26 February 2024 from https://www.birdforum.net/opus/Wood_Stork
GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1