Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. In southwest Florida, wood storks are often conspicuous year-around. Elsewhere on the Florida peninsula, they can be found almost any time but during late-winter and early-spring when they're nesting. In Florida, wood storks have adapted to human environments and can often be seen standing around in small groups along canals, lakes, and other bodies of water, even near roads and parking lots. Next time you see some of these storks, take a closer look; they have some interesting characteristics and behavior. Older wood storks have a bare head and dark corn-colored bill. Young of the year that can be seen in these groups by late summer have sparse feathers on the head and a yellow bill. Watch closely and you may see some interactions within one of these groups. Older birds may be intolerant of one another at times, taking action to chase a bird away that gets too close. But that yellow bill on the young serves as a badge of youth; it says, “Hey! I'm just a kid, inexperienced, and don't know any better!”, and as a result, transgressions of the young are more tolerated. By their second year, a young stork has learned the ways of its world and its bill begins to take on the dark corn color of adults.'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.