Fred Bernstein and I did a survey of the birds on the Myakka River Rookery Island just south of the US 41 bridge today in North Port (4.2.10). This island lies adjacent to the Myakka State Forest and just north of the Myakka Island Point Preserve.
On our previous survey on Jan. 27, 2010, we estimated there were about 245 wood storks on the island, but no young.
Today we estimated the following birds were present on the island:
300 wood storks
150 great egrets
4 great blue herons
4 snowy egrets
4 black-crowned night herons
3 white ibis
Some young great egrets were present in small numbers but there were no wood stork babies. The wood storks were adding to their nests and engaging in bill clapping, and some mating. The distinctive noises emanating from babies were present but minimal.
Given the high water levels present in adjacent fresh water wetlands, it seems unlikely that these wood storks will be able to successfully breed this year. But they are still present on their nests. Fred will check again in three weeks and see if there is any change in behavior. The unusual weather this year has provided us with a natural experiment which will challenge the wood storks.
Based on Fred’s data from previous years, significant numbers of young wood storks were present in nests on the following months:
1997- April, May, June
1999- March, April
2002- April, May
We do not have adequate data to determine to what degree the later breeding resulted in successful fledging. Certainly at other locations later nesting has been associated with nest failure due to the onset of the rains and loss of adequate feeding habitat with high prey density.
Only time will tell whether there will be young in the nests this year and if they will successfully fledge.
Bill Dunson, Englewood, FL & Galax, VA