Area birders gather to spot migrating wood storks

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 30, 2009

NATCHEZ — Sleeping in was not on the schedule for many locals the morning of Saturday, June 20. About half a dozen people gathered at the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge headquarters at 7 a.m. to begin a two-hour guided walk through the refuge spotting the many different species of birds that live in the area.

Refuge staff members led the bird enthusiasts quietly down the Magnolia Trail, stopping often to point out as many different birds as they could hear and see. Enthusiasts looked through their binoculars to see birds such as the eastern bluebird, the wood thrush and even the rarely seen painted bunting.

The real treat was seeing the wood storks at the end of the trail overlooking the swamp. Enthusiasts were in awe at the site of the dozens of wood storks resting in the trees and flying over the swamp water.

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“I like seeing the storks flying,” Natchez resident Leine McNeely said while talking about their wingspan and coloring.

Wood storks are mostly white with a black tail and black feathers under their wings. They can stand two- to four-feet tall and can have a wingspan as wide as five and a half feet. They are believed to be in this area due to high river stages and the availability of food.

Enthusiasts will be able to enjoy watching the storks at the refuge until the end of summer when they will migrate back to Mexico. St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge is off U.S. 61 South just past the Sibley Store.