Black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)
|Size||Height: 129 – 137 cm (2)|
Wing span: 230 cm (3)
The black-necked stork is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) is a huge wading bird with a spectacular and distinctive plumage. Easily recognised by its striking black-and-white markings, this bird possesses a jet-black head, wing bar and tail, which contrast against the white plumage of the rest of the body (3). Other characteristic features include an iridescent neck that appears green, blue or purple depending on the angle (4), a massive black bill and long, coral-red legs (2) (3). Sexes are identical except for the colour of the iris, which is yellow in the female, brown in the male (3). Juveniles are brown instead of black-and-white, and sub-adults resemble adults, but the white plumage is duskier and the legs are black (2) (3) (4).
The black-necked stork ranges from South and Southeast Asia to Australia, occurring in Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Irian Jaya (Indonesia), Papua New Guinea and Australia (3) (5).
Found in wetlands such as freshwater marshes, lakes, pools, large rivers, irrigation canals, flooded agriculture fields, and occasionally mangroves and coastal mudflats, with tall trees nearby to breed in, up to 1,200 metres (5) (6) (7).
Pairs of black-necked storks bond for several years, possibly for life, and remain together during the non-breeding season, maintaining and defending discrete territories (2) (4) (8). Thus, courtship displays are minimal, occasionally consisting of some bowing and clapping of bills (2), and mating usually occurs at the nest (4). Two to four white, conical eggs are laid and incubated by both parents, which also share the role of caring for the chicks once hatched (2). Birds studied in India started breeding immediately after the monsoon in September, with most chicks hatching by mid-January and fledging by mid-March. Young birds usually remained on their natal territories for 14 to 18 months, with some remaining up to 28 months (9).
The black-necked stork has a carnivorous diet, feeding on a wide range of items, including fish, small crustaceans, amphibians, large insects, birds, lizards, snakes, turtles and rodents (2) (3) (10).
The combined populations of South and Southeast Asia are thought to total less than 400 individuals, and this species would be classified as Endangered if it were not for the more abundant Australian populations, consisting of 10,000 to 20,000 birds (5) (6). Indeed, while this species is in steep decline in South Asia and has dwindled to the brink of extinction in Southeast Asia, it is thought to be stable or even increasing in Irian Jaya, Papua New Guinea and Australia, although the situation needs further review. The primary threats facing this bird across its range are habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation due to the encroachment of human development and agriculture, which has resulted in the drainage of wetlands and the felling of nest trees (5). Over-fishing, overgrazing, hunting and excessive capture for zoos have also helped deplete numbers in the wild (5) (11).
Despite its critical position in South and Southeast Asia, the black-necked stork has not been given threatened status (because of its abundance in Australia and wide range generally), and only recently has the plight of this species been highlighted. Three to four pairs breed and raise chicks in Keoladeo National Park in India each year but the population does not appear to grow, with a similar situation in Yala National Park in Sri Lanka. Although having been listed under schedule IV of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, under which the trapping of this bird remains largely uncontrolled, the black-necked stork’s upgrade to Schedule I has been proposed by the Indian government under the recommendation of the Bombay Natural History Society, which would give total protection to the species (11). Other proposed measures to help save the black-necked stork from extinction in Asia include identifying and protecting important wetland and breeding sites, increasing legal protection, reducing capture from the wild, creating a captive breeding programme and raising public awareness of the desperate plight of this rare and beautiful bird (4) (11).
For further information on the black-necked stork see:
Kahl, M.P. (1973) Comparative ethology of the Ciconiidae. Part 6. The Blacknecked, Saddlebill and Jabiru (Genera Xenorhynchus, Ephippiorhynchus, and Jabiru). Condor, 75: 17 – 27.
Authenticated (04/01/06) by K.S. Gopi Sundar, International Crane Foundation.
and Greg Clancy, MSc, University of New England.
- Carnivore: flesh-eating animal.
- Natal: site of birth.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (November, 2005)
Australian Museum Online (November, 2005)
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (November, 2005)
- Sundar, G. (2006) Pers. comm.
BirdLife International (November, 2005)
Zoological Museum Amsterdam: Bird Collection (November, 2005)
- Sundar, K.S.G. (2004) Group size and habitat use by Black-necked Storks Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus in an agriculture-dominated landscape in Uttar Pradesh, India. Bird Conservation International, 14: 323 - 334.
- Kahl, M.P. (1973) Comparative ethology of the Ciconiidae - Part 6 - The Blacknecked, Saddlebill and Jabiru (Genera Xenorhynchus, Ephippiorhynchus, and Jabiru). Condor, 75: 17 - 27.
- Sundar, K.S.G. (2003) Notes on the breeding biology of the Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus in Etawah and Mainpuri districts, Uttar Pradesh, India. Forktail, 19: 15 - 20.
- Ishtiaq, F., Rahmani, A.R., Javed, S. and Coulter, M.C. (2004) Nest site characteristics of Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) and White-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus) in Keoladeo National Park, Bharatpur, India. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society, 101: 90 - 95.
- Rahmani, A.R. (1989) Status of the Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus in the Indian subcontinent. Forktail, 5: 99 - 110.