Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Wood storks, herons, and egrets all eat fish and nest in colonies in Florida's wetland ecosystems. But only the wood stork seems to be in serious trouble. Why wood storks? The answer basically comes down to how the wood stork gets its food. Herons and egrets spot fishes then spear them with dagger-like bills. A wood stork's bill isn't sharply pointed, and is used more like a pair of salad tongs. A wood stork finds its meals by groping for them in shallow water and quickly grabbing anything it touches that moves. Imagine trying to catch a goldfish with a dip net in a small bowl and trying to catch the same fish in a 50-gallon tank. Of course the fish in the small bowl is easier to catch. As wetlands dry out, fishes are concentrated in small pools and easier for the wood stork to capture. Wood storks time their nesting for the end of the dry season so that fish are concentrated and readily available when the wood stork has babies to feed. Draining of wetlands disrupts natural fluctuations in water levels. Herons and egrets can find food in permanently filled canals and ponds that we have constructed, but wood storks depend on concentrations of fishes, resulting from seasonal fluctuations in water levels.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.