Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. Florida's wood storks do not have close relatives among Florida's herons and egrets; their kin are vultures. Biologists have long suspected the relationship, but now DNA studies, a detailed comparison of anatomy, and similarities in behavior have confirmed the ties. Both wood storks and our black and turkey vultures take advantage of thermals (rising columns of hot air) to travel long distances. They wait until the land warms up each day, then spread their wings and sail off in search of food with little need to spend energy flapping their wings. Both wood storks and vultures often travel twenty miles or more each day to find their daily meals. Being able to travel long distances with little effort aids in the survival of these birds, but they also have another problem: when they're raising young, they need to be able to find food and return with it quickly. As a result of human developments today, wood storks often have to travel farther to find food and as a result, fewer of their young survive. Protecting nesting areas like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary solve only part of the wood stork's problems; protection of nearby feeding areas is also needed.'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.