Storks Visit Milam County

by Sue Ann Kendall

This morning there’s thunder everywhere, which means more welcome rain is on the way, so I went out early to feed the chickens. I’m glad I did, because when I looked into the pond (tank in Texan) behind the house, I saw something in addition to the usual great egret (Ardea alba) and great blue heron (Ardea Herodias): wood storks!


They used to visit for a while periodically, back when the pond had a large dead tree they liked to hang out in, but lately they just drop by and move on. I’m so glad I got to catch them before they left. They are such gorgeous birds, with white bodies, black (actually dark gray) heads and black wing tips that make them easy to spot when they are flying.

There’s a wing.

You know they are big when you compare them to the resident great blue heron, who is HUGE thanks to all those catfish and minnows it ate while the ponds were drying up.

Comparison shot.

Wood storks (Mycteria americana) are the only American stork, and they move around with the seasons. They used to be known as wood ibises because their bills look like those of ibises. Interestingly, they must have shallow water to feed in because they feed by touch. You can see that in many of the photos. That’s why they breed when water levels are falling (in South America). They are predominantly subtropical birds, which is why they hang around here only when it’s warmer. They are listed as a threatened species in the Western hemisphere, because of predation (bad ole crested caracaras) and believe it or not, ecotourism disturbing their nesting colonies. (Source: Wikipedia via iNaturalist)

I’m extra happy to have gotten some videos. The one of them flying away is so lovely. I hope they visit again soon!

Quick one, but good image of wings.
Goodbye, friends! Come back some day!

PS: Yes, we had a good amount of rain yesterday, and it’s raining again now. Happy news for all the plants around here!

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