When my friend Robin and I met at the lake for lunch, we were joined by a third party. As we spread a tablecloth and laid out the food, we noticed a wood stork resting in the grass nearby. To our surprise, rather than flying off, it came over to investigate.
We were thrilled. Although they're not pretty, wood storks do possess a certain charisma. They're big-over three feet tall, with scaly facial skin and long, heavy bills. And to encounter one on land is unusual, since they're typically found wading in the shallows, probing the mud for fish, frogs and crustaceans. Although they're skilled predators, their numbers have dwindled as the state has grown; pollution and loss of habitat have taken a heavy toll.
The bird stood just a few yards away, watching our every move. Robin passed the potato salad. I poured the iced tea.
"What should we call him?" I said.
"How about Ichabod?" She seemed quite pleased with herself.
"Cute," I said. "But it's not a crane-it's a stork."
Robin made a face. She reached for a sandwich and tore off a tiny piece of crust. "Think he'd like some bread?"
She turned to the stork and waved the bread enticingly. Without hesitation, the huge bird advanced. Robin glanced at me and said, "Uh, honey." The bird snatched the bread from her hand.
With a toss of its bill, the stork spat the bread out. Robin and the stork regarded each other. "Bad Ichabod!" she said. With immense gravitas, the stork turned and walked away.
Robin shook her head. "Strange bird."
"Actually, Robin, you are."