2023—Curtsy of the Wood Stork

The American Wood Stork is currently listed as threatened on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, but just a couple of weeks ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a proposed rule to remove the Southeast U.S. distinct population of these birds from the list because it has been determined that they have recovered and are no longer considered threatened. I have seen Wood Storks in Florida a couple of times over the years but our visit to the Brandon Rookery near Tampa, Florida a few weeks ago was the first time I’d seen so many and of those that I saw, many were exhibiting courtship behavior. I have read that one of the characteristics of a Wood Stork in breeding season is that its toes turn pink. It looks as if the toes of this Stork are turning pink. However, I am not sure if the “curtsy” shown in this image is courtship display or just a wing stretch but I love the look of it. The late afternoon dappled sun on its bare head and neck give it an interesting look. It is an elaborate and enchanting display regardless of its purpose.