The American Wood Stork Is Making Its Comeback

image of an American wood stork

An American wood stork in flight.

The Obama administration has announced good news for the Florida Everglades this week: the American wood stork, a species which at one point had been predicted to be extinct by the year 2000, has made a glorious come back. This beautiful wading bird is getting an official upgrade from “endangered” to “threatened,” and current estimates cite the population to be close to 9,000 breeding adults.

Though related species thrive in other parts of the world, namely South and Central America, the wood stork has struggled in subtropical areas of Florida, mostly due to habitat destruction for commercial and residential development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service has worked hard over the last three decades to restore wetlands in and around Florida, and due to their efforts, this once rare bird can now be found as far north as Georgia, South Carolina, and even North Carolina. The wood stork still has a long way to go before it will no longer be considered “threatened,” but wildlife officials are optimistic.

This impressive bird can reach heights of up to four feet with a wingspan that can reach up to five feet, and is the only stork species found in the United States. They prefer swamplands and marshes, where they can feed on fish and frogs, and use the surrounding trees and mangroves to nest and protect their eggs. Adults have no natural predators in the area, except for the occasional alligator, so the only real threat to them is human interference.

More and more visitors to Florida are able to see these birds each year as their numbers rise, and airboat rides through the Everglades with Captain Mitch are a perfect opportunity to try and spot one of these birds for yourself. The knowledge and love that Captain Mitch and his crew have for this area and its creatures are passed on to everyone who steps foot on their airboats; you’ll step off the boat from your Everglades swamp tour inspired and with a new understanding and appreciation for this unique yet fragile eco-system.