Movements and Habitat Use by Fledgling Wood Storks (Mycteria Americana) Prior to Dispersal from the Natal Colony


Activity patterns of fledgling storks (Ciconiidae) during the parental-dependency period are poorly understood for many species, including the Wood Stork (Mycteria americana). Satellite telemetry was used to track the movements of fledgling Wood Storks ( n = 50) from the time they attained minimum flight capabilities until dispersal from the natal colony. Distances traveled, range size, and habitat use by fledgling Wood Storks were quantified for early (prior to the final week before dispersal) and late (the final week before dispersal) predispersal periods and for the entire predis-persal period as a whole. Metrics were compared among three colonies and between two years at a single colony using nonparametric tests. For the entire predispersal period, the mean daily maximum distance of juvenile Wood Storks from their nest was 1.39 ± 0.2 km (median = 0.18 and maximum = 103.13) and the mean cumulative distance moved per day was 2.38 ± 0.28 km (median = 0.45 and maximum = 110.58). Movement distances differed among colonies and between years, while core and total ranges were similar regardless of location. The majority of locations (84%) occurred within colony boundaries, 95% occurred within 1.0 km of the colony and 98% occurred within 3.5 km of the colony. Flight distances did not increase linearly with time and instead followed a Poisson distribution, increasing sharply during the final week before dispersal. Habitat management recommendations for juvenile Wood Storks are to preserve wetland features within a 1.0–3.5 km zone around a colony.