SREL Reprint #2638




Coastal habitat use by wood storks during the non-breeding season

A. L. Bryan, Jr., K. F. Gaines, and C. S. Eldridge

Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, P.O. Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802 USA

Abstract: We documented roosting and foraging habitat use by Wood Storks during the post-breeding season in the coastal zone of Georgia from 1994-1998. Larger, more persistent aggregations of roosting storks typically occurred in enclosed wetlands on large estuarine islands. Smaller, more ephemeral aggregations tended to occur on salt marsh/upland ecotones, where storks appeared to be waiting for local conditions (tide levels) to become suitable for foraging. Examination of habitat types within a 2-km radius of the larger (mean >10 storks/survey) vs. smaller (mean <10 storks/survey) roosts showed that surrounding habitat structure, including those used for foraging, were similar. Foraging storks typically fed in close proximity (median = 0.5 km) to large roosts, much closer than storks rising coastal wetlands during the breeding season. Tidal creeks were used almost exclusively as foraging habitat (92%). Storks and other wading birds were almost always present when the study bird arrived. The foraging patterns of study birds and four storks carrying radios suggested that storks often used the same foraging sites and/ or marsh systems in the non-breeding season. Coastal Wood Storks apparently selected roosting sites based on the presence of conspecifics, abundant local prey, or possibly as shelter from adverse weather conditions.

Keywords: Coastal, foraging, habitat use, Mycteria americana, non-breeding season, roosting, Wood Stork

SREL Reprint #2638

Bryan, A. L., Jr., K. F. Gaines, and C. S. Eldridge. 2002. Coastal habitat use by wood storks during the non-breeding season. Waterbirds 25:429-435.

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