Eventually, 50 to 60 storks occupied 20 or more nests and my estimate is that they have produced over 30 young.
According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology eBird reports, this was a milestone, the first time in over 10 years that more than a few had been seen together within miles of this location.
When we moved to south Florida from New Mexico in 2004, Wood Storks were common breeders and visitors to our back yard lake. In my October, 2014 blog, "Wood Storks: Missing but not Endangered" I discussed the reason for the sharp decline in the Wood Stork population in south Florida:
" Drainage, filling of sloughs and development have altered the natural cycle, and aberrant rainfall patterns have complicated this balance. Summer drought or early onset of the wet season produce adverse conditions. Prolonged drought kills off the fish and their populations may take more than a year to recover even if water conditions are favorable. The 2012 wet season had much greater rainfall than normal, which was very favorable, but heavy rains during late winter reversed the drying process and dispersed prey, accounting for their failure to produce young during 2013."
The post also contains this photo, taken in 2010, of juvenile Wood Storks in our local wetlands:
In a 2012 update to an earlier blog, "Struggling Storks" (October 5, 2010) I pointed out:
"Although the number of Wood Stork nests outside of South Florida have increased from 1817 in the 1970s to 5491 in the 2000s, the number of nests in South Florida have not recovered, ranging from from 2406 to 2367 over the same period. Nationally the percentage of nests at Corkscrew Swamp declined from 34-37% to only 8% of the US total. There has been total nesting failure at Corkscrew since 2010."
Despite the continuous decline and virtual disappearance of breeding Wood Storks in south Florida, in 2016 the US Fish and Wildlife Serve proceeded to remove the Wood Stork from the list of Endangered Species.
Thanks to more favorable weather conditions this past year (dryer in late summer which produced lower water levels), the local newcomers seem to be finding enough food for their youngsters. Tactile feeders, the storks depend upon lower water levels to concentrate their prey and shallow enough to allow them to keep their nostrils above the surface.
VIDEO (01:24): Wood Stork foraging in my back yard. If video fails to load, visit THIS VIMEO LINK
Wood Stork foraging from Ken Schneider on Vimeo.
An adult stork rests along the boardwalk at the local Library wetlands:
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Please visit the links to all these memes to see some excellent photos on display