NEW YORK – A wayward wading bird typically seen in tropical and subtropical climates migrated to New York City but died 10 days later after eating a large piece of foam.
Bird researcher Anthony Ciancimino first noted the juvenile wood stork July 31 in a saltwater marsh near the Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, the Staten Island Advance reported.
On Aug. 9, Lawrence Pugliares, a nature photographer who runs a wildlife group on Facebook, got a call from a member about the stork, which appeared to be choking. José Ramírez-Garofalo and Shannon Curley, two adjunct biology professors at the College of Staten Island, took the bird to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan for a necropsy, which revealed a piece of insular foam three feet, 8 inches long in the bird’s stomach.
“It was in the gut of the animal so it presumably ate it thinking it was a prey item like an eel or a snake,” Curley said.
Researchers said that while the bird was found near the Amazon facility, it could have eaten the debris somewhere else.
Wood storks were listed as an endangered species in 1984 but their status was changed to threatened in 2014. The species is the only breeding stork in the country. They typically breed in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. They are known to migrate north after breeding season, but typically not as far as New York.
Ciancimino records and maintains records of rare bird sightings on Staten Island in eBird, a bird database operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He said the last time a wood stork was reported in the borough was 1973.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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