Wood storks are again calling the South Carolina coast home

This is good news for the troubled birds and we do get to see the Wood Storks out in the creek. It is also hard to believe but grateful that they have made such a recovery in the last about 4 years. The second article is at the bottom of this page from 2009 about the trouble the some birds and Wood Storks are or were in.

Wood storks are again calling the South Carolina coast home

No more than 15 years ago, it would have made a bird watcher’s week to see the seldom-seen wood stork.

Today, a daily siting is not unusual.  MandJ100_0911-2185

That development pleases watchers, environmental agencies and wildlife experts who are happy to see wood storks — and in large numbers — calling the South Carolina coast home.

As the population has grown in recent years, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources has launched a new wood stork study — part of a collaborative project throughout the Southeast — to learn more about their movements, demography and longevity, according to a DNR release.

“These studies are important to help us track the movement of the birds,” said Ken Scott, vice president of the Fripp Audubon club and a frequent birder. “We are trying to find out where the wood storks go and which ones come back for nesting.”

DNR has banded more than 50 wood storks with easy to spot orange bands with black numbers. It is asking people who see the such storks to report the sightings as part of the project.

Scott said he has called in several sightings in the past month and knows others in the club have, as well.

Just last year, the birds were listed as a federally protected endangered species, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in December to change that status to “threatened.”

The growing number of wood storks indicate a healthier environment, Scott said.

Pete Richards, president of the Fripp Audubon club, said the birds are a great success story, especially in Beaufort County along the barrier islands. While he doesn’t have specific local numbers, he says wood stork numbers from the club’s annual Christmas Bird Count have continued to rise.

The protected habitat here provides wood storks with perfect nesting and feeding grounds and have been a key factor in their growth.

“This data that the DNR is collecting is really important to see trends and any issues these birds are facing and then develop strategies to address them,” Richards said. “It’s important to ensure these birds can continue to live, survive and thrive.”

 

 

Older Story below about the trouble they were in….

Brown pelicans, wood stork and other coastal birds at risk, new study says
March 23, 2009

Pollution, climate change and energy production are contributing to steep declines in marsh and coastal bird populations, according to a new government report.

The first-of-its-kind report chronicles a four-decade drop in many of the country’s bird populations. The report says the drop in numbers has been caused by a variety of factors, including suburban sprawl, the spread of exotic species and global warming.

Hamilton Davis of the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League said most of the zoning in the state encourages sprawl and policies must be created to use land efficiently.

He said progress is being made in Beaufort County, where local leaders have updated comprehensive plans to include progressive land planning tools, such as stormwater controls that can reduce pollution.

“They are still in implementation stages, but they are infinitely better than they were in the past,” he said. “And the benefit is preservation of wetlands and open spaces and generally less growing in a way that has fewer negative impacts on our natural resources.”

The report also shows that conservation efforts can work. Birds that live in wetlands and the nation’s waterfowl have rebounded over the past 40 years, a period marked by increased efforts to protect wetlands.

Across the country, energy production is playing a role in bird populations. Birds collide with wind turbines and oil and gas wells, and studies have shown some species will avoid nesting near those structures. The U.S. State of Birds report, released Tuesday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, was requested in October 2007 by President George W. Bush.

Environmentalists and scientists say the report should signal to the Obama administration to proceed cautiously as it seeks to expand renewable energy production and the electricity grid on public lands, and tries to harness wind energy along the nation’s coastlines.

In South Carolina, offshore wind is gaining traction as a potential source for energy, said Davis, who sits on a governor-appointed committee to study the resource’s potential.

“We need to be wary of where we will put those wind farms,” he said, adding that if wind farms are out of birds’ migratory patterns, there is less chance of harming them.

Barry Lowes of the Hilton Head Island Audubon Society said harnessing wind is a better option for birds than pollution that can come from coal-fired plants.

Lowes said everyone needs to be aware of what a declining bird population means for the ecosystem.

“We’ve got to understand we are right in the middle of it, and whatever happens to them will happen to us too,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

BIRDS IN TROUBLE

•Wood stork

• Clapper rail

• Whooping crane

• Seaside sparrow

• Piping plover

• Brown pelican