Now, with more than 400 pairs of nesting wood storks, Woody Pond is Georgia’s largest stork rookery and one of the most important in the Southeast, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The refuge is now called a “stepping stone” for bolstering stork populations. Many of the stork babies reared there this spring, for instance, will disperse north and perhaps help establish new breeding colonies elsewhere in the Southeast.
IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The Eta Aquarid meteor shower will reach a peak of 60 meteors per hour this weekend — in the southeast from about 3 a.m. until dawn. Mercury is low in the east just before dawn. Venus is in the west at dusk and sets about two hours later. Mars rises out of the east around midnight and will appear near the moon tonight. Jupiter is in the east at dusk. Saturn rises in the east around midnight.
Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)
Status: Threatened (Endangered Species List); total current breeding population estimated to be 16,000 adults.
Description: Large, long-legged wading bird standing little over 3 feet; 5-foot wing span; white plumage except for black wings and short black tail; bald, gray head and neck; long, decurved black bill.
Feeding: Primarily small fish 1 to 6 inches long; feeds in 6-10 inches of water with its long, opened beak partially submerged, snapping it shut when it touches prey; shuffles feet and flashes wings to stir up prey; may use thermals to soar as far as 80 miles from nesting to feeding areas.
Reproduction: Tends to nest in rookeries near ponds with alligators, which keep predators such as raccoons at bay; 2-5 eggs laid between March and May; fledges occur in July and August; average two fledglings per nest during good season.