Citation

Material Information

Title:
With the Wild Things: Wood Storks
Creator:
Dr. Jerry Jackson
Place of Publication:
Ft. Myers, Florida
Publisher:
Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences, Florida Gulf Coast University
Language:
English
Physical Description:
6 podcasts, approximately 1 minute each in length

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Wood stork

Notes

Scope and Content:
Source: Wood Storks 1 Length of Segment: 00:01:17 Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. For centuries, white storks have lived in close association with humans, constructing stick nests on roofs and chimneys of people's homes. The white stork winters in Africa and nests in Europe, returning to Europe in early spring to set up housekeeping when lambs were being born, crops were being planted, and humans were hoping for a successful growing season. The arrival of white storks was a good omen, and their choice of roofs and chimneys of human homes for their nests led to the association with human fertility and a folk tale for children about the arrival of babies. The folklore around these storks also led to their protection, although in recent years, destruction and pollution of feeding sites and other problems have caused declines in white stork numbers. We have only one native stork in North America: the wood stork, which is sometimes been called the 'wood ibis'. Our wood stork does not nest on rooftops, but instead, nests in colonies in trees in Florida swamps. Wood storks are early-nesting birds, beginning their nesting in mid-winter in South Florida, timing nesting to coincide with an abundance of food that will be available when their eggs hatch and each pair has three to five hungry mouths to feed. ( English )
Scope and Content:
Source: Wood Storks 2 Length of Segment: 00:01:17 Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Wood storks, herons, and egrets all eat fish and nest in colonies in Florida's wetland ecosystems. But only the wood stork seems to be in serious trouble. Why wood storks? The answer basically comes down to how the wood stork gets its food. Herons and egrets spot fishes then spear them with dagger-like bills. A wood stork's bill isn't sharply pointed, and is used more like a pair of salad tongs. A wood stork finds its meals by groping for them in shallow water and quickly grabbing anything it touches that moves. Imagine trying to catch a goldfish with a dip net in a small bowl and trying to catch the same fish in a 50-gallon tank. Of course the fish in the small bowl is easier to catch. As wetlands dry out, fishes are concentrated in small pools and easier for the wood stork to capture. Wood storks time their nesting for the end of the dry season so that fish are concentrated and readily available when the wood stork has babies to feed. Draining of wetlands disrupts natural fluctuations in water levels. Herons and egrets can find food in permanently filled canals and ponds that we have constructed, but wood storks depend on concentrations of fishes, resulting from seasonal fluctuations in water levels. ( English )
Scope and Content:
Source: Wood Storks 3 Length of Segment: 00:01:16 Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Florida's wood storks do not have close relatives among Florida's herons and egrets; their kin are vultures. Biologists have long suspected the relationship, but now DNA studies, a detailed comparison of anatomy, and similarities in behavior have confirmed the ties. Both wood storks and our black and turkey vultures take advantage of thermals (rising columns of hot air) to travel long distances. They wait until the land warms up each day, then spread their wings and sail off in search of food with little need to spend energy flapping their wings. Both wood storks and vultures often travel twenty miles or more each day to find their daily meals. Being able to travel long distances with little effort aids in the survival of these birds, but they also have another problem: when they're raising young, they need to be able to find food and return with it quickly. As a result of human developments today, wood storks often have to travel farther to find food and as a result, fewer of their young survive. Protecting nesting areas like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary solve only part of the wood stork's problems; protection of nearby feeding areas is also needed. ( English )
Scope and Content:
Source: Wood Storks 4 Length of Segment: 00:01:11 Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The study of animal behavior often provides us with a greater understanding of family ties. As a result of some unusual shared behaviors, we now know that Florida's wood storks are related to our black and turkey vultures. As one biologist who was trying to determine our vulture's closest kin put it: “Our vultures are nothing more than sawed-off storks.” The behavior that helped establish this link has to do with the way in which both wood storks and our vultures keep cool in the Florida sunshine. When we sweat, the evaporation of water from the surface of the skin cools us down. Although birds don't have sweat glands as we do, wood storks and vultures have developed a similar type of cooling mechanism: they excrete on their legs, and the evaporation of water from that excrement cools them off. As a result of this behavior, the legs of wood storks and our vultures are characteristically white from the accumulated excrement. It may not sound pleasant to us, but on the hottest days, it works for them. Pretty cool behavior for these interesting birds of the Florida sunshine. ( English )
Scope and Content:
Source: Wood Storks 5 Length of Segment: 00:01:15 Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. In southwest Florida, wood storks are often conspicuous year-around. Elsewhere on the Florida peninsula, they can be found almost any time but during late-winter and early-spring when they're nesting. In Florida, wood storks have adapted to human environments and can often be seen standing around in small groups along canals, lakes, and other bodies of water, even near roads and parking lots. Next time you see some of these storks, take a closer look; they have some interesting characteristics and behavior. Older wood storks have a bare head and dark corn-colored bill. Young of the year that can be seen in these groups by late summer have sparse feathers on the head and a yellow bill. Watch closely and you may see some interactions within one of these groups. Older birds may be intolerant of one another at times, taking action to chase a bird away that gets too close. But that yellow bill on the young serves as a badge of youth; it says, “Hey! I'm just a kid, inexperienced, and don't know any better!”, and as a result, transgressions of the young are more tolerated. By their second year, a young stork has learned the ways of its world and its bill begins to take on the dark corn color of adults. ( English )
Scope and Content:
Source: Wood Storks 6 Length of Segment: 00:01:16 Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. An adult wood stork has a bare head, sometimes giving rise to the local name 'gourd head'. Lack of feathers on the head probably has to do with the amount of time a stork has its head underwater as it gropes for fish; a feathered head might get matted with muck. Take a look at a wood stork's feet and you'll see another adaptation that may relate to its feeding: its toes are pink in contrast to its black legs. As a wood stork feeds, it lifts its feet, flexes its toes, and seems to stir the water. Perhaps those pink toes seem like big worms to hungry fish and aid in attracting fish to within the wood stork's reach. Although wood storks are well-known to feed at night as well as during the day and be able to find food just by groping for it, perhaps those pink toes also serve as a light background against which a fish is more readily seen and captured. As a wood stork is groping for food with its head underwater, it often repeatedly extends one wing, not likely just to keep its balance, but perhaps to startle potential prey into revealing its presence, or perhaps to provide shade that a fish might think is a convenient hiding place, just within the stork's reach. ( English )

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