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Will You Accept this Twig? Wood stork love story....

The Wood Stork Bachelor

wood stork
The Wood stork batchelor wants a partner.

Male Wood stork tries to impress female.

She stood demurely looking over her shoulder. He flexed his wing muscles and held out his massive wingspan behind her. She was not impressed.

Having failed, he turns to show her another side.

He turned backwards to show her his back view. She, still not captivated, took off to a nearby tree perch.

He grabbed a small branch and followed, landing beside her. “Will you accept this twig?” Off she few again.

Wood storks mate for life, as long as twenty years, so if she accepts his twig, it’s a done deal. She must be choosy. Will he work hard for me, help me build the nest, bring lots of food?

All day he continued to offer her twigs, then a leafed branch, followed by­­ a bigger branch, until finally she accepted. It seemed that size does matter to a Wood stork.

He was happy. She was too. They clappered their beaks together.

They built a nest with twigs and branches, and together they hatched fuzzy-headed baby Wood storks.

From early sunlight to late evening the couple traveled to the water nearby carrying back fresh fish to their babies who rapidly devoured them with frenzied raucous and rowdy excitement.

As the babies grew quickly into adolescence, they became too large for the nest. It was time for them to launch and feed themselves. Over four years, they will lose all their head feathers, an adaptation to minimize bacterial colonization, and their beaks will turn a dark iron-color. It will be time for the cycle to repeat. He must find his own twigs to offer and she will accept…… Maybe.

Wood storks
Three pink billed fuzzy headed babies and parent.

Note: Wood storks nest in Florida but are seen in the rivers in Alabama every year as they travel northwest. These images were taken by me in St. Augustine's Alligator Garden Rookery, a most magical place.

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Susan Rouillier
Bird Photographer and Painter

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