Unusual visitor at Dunbar Slough

photo by Matt Wetrich

Greene County’s newest attraction is a brown and white bird camping out at Dunbar Slough west of Scranton.

The long-legged bird is a wood stork, which most likely was carried north by Tropical Storm Cindy last month.

According to Carroll County naturalist Matt Wetrich, a Jefferson resident, Greene County conservation director Dan Towers first spotted the wood stork on June 29. Wood storks are rare in Iowa, and he called Wetrich to confirm the identification.

It’s only the third sighting of a wood stork since such things have been recorded in Iowa. Wood storks are typically found in Florida, with wintering grounds on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Most of the wood storks’ range is South and Central America.

This particular wood stork is probably only 1 year old, as it takes them three years to lose their head feathers, leaving them with naked, dark heads for the remainder of their lives.

“People from all over Iowa, as well as surrounding states, have been to see it,” Wetrich said. “This highlights what a magnificent place Dunbar Slough is, and that Greene County is very, very fortunate to have it.”

“This event also brings to light that non-agricultural land and non-hunted wildlife have economic value,” he added.

The bird is in a pond area on the north side of County Road E-53 (250th St), about 2.7 miles west of Highway 25. Wetrich asks everyone who goes to look at the wood stork to stay in their vehicles and not approach it.

He said the bird will eventually find its way back south.


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