Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. An adult wood stork has a bare head, sometimes giving rise to the local name 'gourd head'. Lack of feathers on the head probably has to do with the amount of time a stork has its head underwater as it gropes for fish; a feathered head might get matted with muck. Take a look at a wood stork's feet and you'll see another adaptation that may relate to its feeding: its toes are pink in contrast to its black legs. As a wood stork feeds, it lifts its feet, flexes its toes, and seems to stir the water. Perhaps those pink toes seem like big worms to hungry fish and aid in attracting fish to within the wood stork's reach. Although wood storks are well-known to feed at night as well as during the day and be able to find food just by groping for it, perhaps those pink toes also serve as a light background against which a fish is more readily seen and captured. As a wood stork is groping for food with its head underwater, it often repeatedly extends one wing, not likely just to keep its balance, but perhaps to startle potential prey into revealing its presence, or perhaps to provide shade that a fish might think is a convenient hiding place, just within the stork's reach.'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.