Back from extinction

     It was a very quiet day on the Broward. I watched the sunrise on the dock as spring like weather (in the south anyway) fills the air. A lone Wood Stork flew low over the Broward and turned south towards the zoo. There were very few birds this morning so I thought I would follow that Wood Stork to see what it was up to.

      The Wood Stork (Myceria Americana) is a large, long legged, white wading bird with an unfeathered grey head and a stout dark bill.  It is bit over four foot in height with a wing span of five feet or more. It is white with black primary and secondary feathers and black on the tail also. It is the only species of true stork breeding in the US. It was nearly extinct 50 years ago declining from a population of over 20,000 pairs to less than 5,000 by 1978. But they are making a comeback thanks to efforts like those of the Jacksonville Zoo which has a large successful breeding colony established there. By the number of small human children present at the zoo I would also say the local human population is in no imminent danger of extinction however. Unlike the children I doubt that only a mother Wood Stork could call it’s offspring cute. They are UGLY with a capital U.  But I love to watch them glide by the marsh anyway. They did not start out bald. These birds feed by sweeping their beaks back and forth through the muddy tidal streams at low tide and feed on fish and crustaceans. The bacteria in the mud migrate up the beak and cause the head feather to fall off as the bird gets older giving them a wrinkled grey had that gives them that unique face and character that only a mother could love (or another Wood Stork). I sit my small portable stool up near the breeding colony trees and just watch them. They are building nests right now and fly to and from the local trees and river gathering twigs and branches and bring them to the nest. As I sit under the tree they fly right at me landing just over my head. You can’t get much closer than that. In a manner of twenty minutes my disc is nearly full of flying stork photos.  The zoo is a great place to come to see many of the species of local birds. One of the storks has a radio-tracking device on its back similar to the one I saw on the Brown Pelican last month on the Broward.  I bet the zoo put the one on the pelican also. Next thing you know they are going to want to put a tracking device on me too. 

     Seems at my age a lot of things I grew up knowing are becoming extinct. Drive in movies, 45 records, and home delivery of milk (maybe the US mail will be next).  There are no more party phone lines, just cell phones and flash mobs showing up at places starting all kind of weird parties everywhere. We all have to be connected somehow by email, computers, cell phones, GPS tracking devices….Times have changed. I pray however, that the true connections that really bind us together still remain.  Things like friendship, faith, integrity, kindness, and family values and traditions. This weekend Christians around the world celebrate someone else who rose from the dead too. Someone thought He was extinct too but He came back! And I am glad He did. Be Blessed. Harry

We're back! Who says we are extinct? Wood Stork brings nesting materials.

The Jacksonville zoo has one of the most successful Wood Stork Rookeries in Florida.

And yo mother is ugly too! Bacteria in the mud cause the headfeathers to go away in adults leaving a face only a mother could love!

Down to only 5000 pair in 1978 these Wood Storks are making an amazing comeback. They are beautiful to see flying even with their not so pretty face. Beauty is only feather deep anyway.

I need a really wide lens to get this wing span that can exceed five foot across.

This once carries a radio location finder on its back. Similar to the one I saw on a Pelican last month.

Motion!... I slow the shutter speed as I pan the Wood Stork to get more motion blur in the background.


All photographs and materials copyrighted and possession of Harry D Selsor. All rights reserved.

Photos are avail for purchase framed or unframed.