- Posted August 5, 2014 by
Murrells Inlet, South Carolina
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Travel snapshots: Best bird-watching
Thunder sends Parents Home Quickly, While Babies Lag Behind
The storms on the southeastern coast have kept most of us inside lately, but this is the only time of year we can see baby Wood Storks and Ibis in the southeast.
Their numbers were severly decreased in South Carolina since the 1930s, then dropped again because of a drought from the late nineties to early 2000.
South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia however, have begun serious efforts in the last few years to provide and protect suitable habitats for nesting sites and their numbers appear to now be rebounding.
A brief reprieve from the storms on this day allowed me to travel to Murrells Inlet, SC to see if Spring 2014 had yet brought us new babies.
And, speaking of delivery, I discovered a tree of storks. Wood storks to be exact.
An old Wives Tale is that White Storks will bring beautiful babies, whereas the less appealing Wood Storks will bring ugly babies. Baby Wood Storks however, too have cute fuzzy faces, and don't develop the bare dull and dark faces until they are adults that have earned them the colloquial, "flintheads."
I was ecstatic when I noticed small white and black fluffs foraging and hidden among the marsh grasses below the tree, sure that the adult storks above had brought their babies out for a test drive on this particular day.
Wood Storks were once classified with White Ibis, as both adults are white with black coloration on their primaries, but it's more visible in Ibis when they're in flight.
Taking photos while dodging lightening strikes isn't a good idea so I hurried to get as many photos as I could, and watched and heard the storm rumble closer and closer to where I was perched.
Baby Ibis grow quicky to their adult size, but sport grey and white feathers their first Spring, much like baby Wood Storks. They too have puffs of grey throughout their white backs and wings, and before their black primaries are well defined in adulthood.
Ibis beaks are orange, but they dig in the mud for food, so especially from a distance, beaks can appear dark like a wood storks'. As the storm rolled back onto the southeastern coast on this day, one especially loud clap of thunder followed by lightening strikes, sent the adults suddenly up in the air and they flew home to roost earlier than usual on this particular day.
The babies, however continued happily foraging in what must have been an abundance of fish, crabs and insects for awhile longer until they too realized one by one, that it was time to find a more suitable and safer perch and they followed their parents' route home to roost.
Back at home I was eager to see my first close ups of the distant baby Wood Storks. Zooming in on my much closer and much larger computer screen, I discovered that these babies were in fact all a mix of White Ibis parents and a few babies hiding in the dense marsh grasses, just sharing the marsh with the Wood Storks, gathering to preen in the tree above.
1 White Ibis parents startled by thunder clap encourage babies, hidden by grasses to fly to safety
2 Wood Storks fly to a nearby tree to escape the storm
3 Wood Storks vie for spots in the crowded tree and stop to preen before going home to roost