Jul 4, 2009

Lightning-fast Wood Stork Beaks

Mo Hassan took this photo of a wood stork, the only stork currently breeding in North America (in Florida, where the breeding is timed to the dry season so as to partake of the fish caught in shrinking pools). This particular stork was lurking outside Mo's hotel in Orlando.

The wood stork has a rare and effective fishing technique; it lowers its beak into the water and lies in wait, waiting (obviously) for the touch of a soon-to-be-erstwhile fish--preferably a minnow. Then, in as little as 25 milliseconds, it snaps its beak shut. This reaction time is almost unrivaled in the vertebrate world. Not even my near instantaneous and unmanly shriek at the feel of a spider skittering across my bare foot is as fast.


Ellen said...

Breathing? How is that accomplished?

Vasha said...

The nostrils are at the top of the beak.