- Posted July 23, 2014 by
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel snapshots: Best bird-watching
Deemed "The Magnificant Flyer," Threatened Wood Stork at Sunset Flies Home to Roost
Wood Storks have been designated, "threatened" in South Carolina, "uncommon globally," and were placed on the "Endangered Species List" from 1984 to June 30, 2014. They're the only species of stork that breeds in the US, and one group chooses only the warm southeast and specifically the coast.
Their beautiful form when flying, with their neck and legs fully extended has earned them the designation, "The Magnificant Flyer."
I was fortunate to catch this one flying home to roost on Pawleys Island, SC just as the sun was tinting the clouds a soft peach
If you happen upon one wading in a marsh or pond for food, resting in a tree, or in this case flying you can't help but marvel at their size and the stark black feathers that create a distinct outline on their wings. They are the largest wading birds in South Carolina and stand 3-4 feet high with a whopping five foot wing span.
The face and neck however of the adults, have never been called beautiful to my knowledge as they are bare and they're sometimes referred to as, "flintheads." The beak on this particular stork is slightly curved, which is another way to tell that this is an adult.
Here, they nest March through August and must devote over two months to their hatched clutch of 1-5 babies, so there's still time to make the trip and try to catch a glimpse of these magnificent birds.
They prefer the coast and to be near water and I frequently see them resting and preening in trees alongside Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons just before sunset.
If conditions aren't perfect, adults will abandon the eggs or the infants so South Carolinians have been working hard to provide substitute habitats and improve the natural ones to restore their numbers.
In 2011, a Wood Stork Recovery Plan became available prepared by the University of GA and the USFWS and can be viewed online at, http://www.fws.gov/northflorida/Wood Storks.