Wood Stork

Mycteria americana
A Wood Stork specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A large (34-47 inches) wader, the Wood Stork is most easily identified by its white body, black wing edges, and large bald head. In flight, this species is easily separated from cranes by its short neck, from egrets by its ability to hold its neck extended in flight (as opposed to folding it back on its body), and from ibises by its extremely long legs. In fact, with its bald head and soaring flight, this species is more easily mistaken for a vulture than for any wader. Male and female Wood Storks are similar to one another in all seasons. The Wood Stork primarily breeds in the American tropics from southern Mexico and the Caribbean south to tropical portions of South America. In North America, this species is a local breeder and uncommon winter resident from south Florida north to coastal South Carolina. Non-breeding and post-breeding birds may wander widely during late summer, when they may turn up as far north as the Mid-Atlantic region and New England. Wood Storks breed in freshwater and brackish wetlands surrounded by trees, which this species uses to nest and roost colonially. In the non-breeding season, this species may be found in a number of wetland habitats ranging in size from large expanses of marshland to small ponds and canals. Wood Storks primarily eat small fish, but may also eat small quantities of insects and other small animals when available. Wood Storks may be best observed wading in shallow water, where they may be seen plunging their bills into the water to catch fish. It is also possible to see Wood Storks at their nest trees, especially when they return to roost at sunset, or while soaring singly or in small groups high above marshland. Wood Storks are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Casual visitor in this area in June and July, usually seen near water. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

The information for the Wood Stork, the large bird in this part of the display, is below.  (The smaller bird is the Green Heron.)
Date:  7/28/1851
Collected By:  WR Young/RJ Pollard
Locality:  Pr Georges County, MD
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  15330

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC45147 Mycteria americana (Wood Stork)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC52057 Mycteria americana (Wood Stork)