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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

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).
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Description

The black-necked stork 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).
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Distribution

Range Description

Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus occurs in South Asia, South-East Asia and Oceania. In South Asia it is found in Pakistan (previously frequent in lower Sind, breeding in the Indus delta until the 1970s, now a straggler), Nepal (rare resident and winter visitor to the terai), India (a widespread resident, but now generally rare and local, and may now be absent in many areas in the south [G. Maheswaran in litt. 2003]), Bhutan (likely as a non-breeder), Bangladesh (former resident, now a vagrant), and Sri Lanka (fewer than 50 mature individuals resident, principally in the dry lowlands). In South-East Asia it occurs in Myanmar (formerly a widespread resident, current status unclear but certainly scarce), Thailand (formerly quite widespread, now a rare resident in the peninsula, almost extinct), Laos (previously a widespread non-breeding visitor, probably breeding in the south, but now extremely rare), Cambodia (previously fairly common; regular recent records, with small numbers breeding), and Indonesia (apparently once present in the Sundaic region, but now extinct there; population >650 in south Papua, formerly Irian Jaya). The species was thought to be extinct in Vietnam, with no records since 1987, but in 2003, two individuals were recorded during a survey of Yok Don National Park (Anon. 2003). In Oceania, subspecies E. a. australis it is found in Papua New Guinea (very local, but occasionally not uncommon) and Australia (relatively large population in the north). The combined South and South-East Asia populations are thought to number fewer than 1,000 individuals (K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2006). While it is in decline in South Asia, in South-East Asia it has dwindled to the brink of extinction. However, a population of c.29 pairs studied in Uttar Pradesh (India) had high productivity and low mortality and has been judged to be at least stable, if not a source for neighbouring populations (Sundar 2003). The districts of south-western Uttar Pradesh are the species's stronghold in India (K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2007). Between 1996 and 2003, the species was judged to be in decline at 32 (54%) of the 59 sites in India where it was recorded (Maheswaran et al. 2004). It is probably stable in south Papua and Australia, although confirmation of the trend in south Papua is required. A recent estimate places the Australian population at up to 20,000 breeding individuals and secure, although it has been contested that this is unduly optimistic and that the figure may not exceed 10,000. These estimates have been used to extrapolate a global total of c.31,000 individuals (Maheswaran et al. 2004). However, owing to the uncertainty surrounding this estimate, a range of 10,000-21,000 mature individuals is preferred as a conservative estimate of the total breeding population.

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Range

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).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits freshwater marshes and lakes (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Sharma 2007), pools in open forest and large rivers (Sharma 2007) and flooded grassland (del Hoyo et al. 1992), up to an altitude of 1,200 m (Sharma 2007). It occasionally uses mangroves and coastal habitats (Santiapillai et al. 1997, Maheswaran et al. 2004, Sharma 2007), such as estuaries and brackish lagoons (Santiapillai et al. 1997). It also frequents artificial habitats such as reservoirs (Maheswaran et al. 2004), sewage ponds and irrigation stores (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Sundar 2004). Although it shows a preference for natural wetlands throughout the year, it uses similar artificial habitats like rice paddies for a short period of time, particularly during and after the monsoon season, when natural wetlands may become too deep for foraging (Sundar 2004). It will also forage in wet or dry wheat fields and flooded fallow fields, the latter especially in summer when the extent of natural wetlands is reduced (Sundar 2004). In Uttar Pradesh, north-central India the species is common in agricultural landscapes, foraging in flooded rice paddies, irrigation canals and roadside ditches (Sundar 2011). It is carnivorous (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and has high food requirements (Rahmani 1987, Maheswaran and Rahmani 2002, Maheswaran 2003b), tending to be largely territorial, being recorded in flocks very occasionally (Sundar et al. 2006), and becoming more aggressive as food is depleted (Maheswaran and Rahmani 2001). It feeds in shallow water up to 0.5m deep (Garnett and Crowley 2000), and takes fish (Garnett and Crowley 2000, Maheswaran and Rahmani 2001, Maheswaran and Rahmani 2002), reptiles and frogs (Garnett and Crowley 2000), some waterfowl (Verma 2003), turtle eggs (Chauhan and Andrews 2006), crabs, molluscs, insects and other arthropods (Ishtiaq et al. 2010, Sundar 2011). It has been observed using tactile feeding methods most often (Maheswaran and Rahmani 2001, Maheswaran and Rahmani 2002), although visual methods are also used, depending on the habitat and prey-type (Maheswaran and Rahmani 2001). It is a territorial breeder (Rahmani 1987, Santiapillai et al. 1997, Sundar 2004, Maheswaran and Rahmani 2005), and pairs stay together during successive seasons, some even after breeding is over (Sundar 2003, Maheswaran 2003b). Nests are built in old trees (Rahmani 1987). In India, it starts to nest from August onwards (Bhatt 2006), with earlier breeders in northern India timing their egg laying in September and October to coincide with the end of the monsoon season (Maheswaran 2003a). In New South Wales, Australia, eggs are laid from May to August, with fledging occurring between October and January (Sundar et al. 2006). Breeding pairs generally raise one or two chicks and three is not uncommon, although four is rare (Sundar 2003, Sundar et al. 2007). Chicks generally stay in natal territories until the subsequent breeding season, although they stay longer if adult birds do not breed in the subsequent year (Sundar 2003).


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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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 m altitude (5) (6) (7).
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 34 years (captivity) Observations: One specimen lived 34 years in captivity (Brouwer et al. 1992).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Christidis, L., Clancy, G., Garnett, S., Maheswaran, G. & Sundar, G.

Justification
Overall, this species has undergone a moderately rapid population reduction, which is projected to continue, and it has a moderately small population. It is therefore classed as Near Threatened.

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Status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1).
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Population

Population
There are thought to be 1,000 asiaticus (G. Sundar in litt. 2002, 2006), plus possibly up to 20,000 breeding australis (S. Garnett in litt. 2006), giving perhaps up to 21,000 mature individuals and therefore up to c.31,000 individuals in total. In light of the uncertainty surrounding this figure, a conservative range estimate of 15,000-35,000 individuals is preferred.

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
It is threatened by a variety of factors across its range, including drainage of wetlands, felling of nest trees, development, encroachment of agriculture or aquaculture, overfishing, overgrazing, hunting and excessive capture for zoos. Consecutive years of drought can cause declines in the population (del Hoyo et al. Family CICONIIDAE 1992). In India, the freshwater wetlands that this species relies upon are under great pressure from expanding human populations (Maheswaran et al. 2004). The most frequent threat to the species in this country is fishing (Santiapillai et al. 1997, Maheswaran et al. 2004), which is so intensive in places that even 5-10 cm fishes are taken (Rahmani 1987), followed by the affects of sedimentation on wetland quality (Maheswaran et al. 2004). However, deterioration of foraging habitat through the conversion of wetlands into agricultural fields is also a major threat in India (Rahmani 1987, Maheswaran 2003a, Sundar 2004). In the face of wetland reclamation, flooded rice paddies have become important and may be promoting the dispersal of young birds and preventing the fragmentation of sub-populations (Sundar 2004). Eggs are taken in at least some parts of India (Maheswaran et al. 2004). Disturbance during the nesting season is a major threat (Rahmani 1987). Deaths due to collision with electricity wires are occasional (Sundar 2005), but deaths of younger birds due to wire fences in Australia are more common (K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2007). Additional threats in Sri Lanka include possible inbreeding in small populations, pesticide poisoning of wetlands and loss of mangroves to increasing salinity levels (Santiapillai et al. 1997).In Australia, the species is thought to be threatened by disturbance and habitat loss, but has not been greatly affected by the intensification of land-use in eastern Australia (Garnett and Crowley 2000). Sea-level rise is projected to have a negative impact upon coastal habitats. The frequent formation of mostly female-biased trios in Australia may indicate that the sex ratio of the species is skewed (Sundar et al. 2006).

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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 – 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).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I. In Australia the species is listed as rare in Queensland and Endangered in New South Wales. It has been upgraded to Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, giving it full protection. It is a conservation priority in Cambodia. It occurs in a number of protected areas including several national parks in Australia and India. Studies on the distribution and abundance levels of this species are presently ongoing in South-East Asia and India (K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2007). An analysis subsequent to these studies is expected to provide improved population estimates. Detailed studies in at least one location have begun in Australia and will also provide improved population information (K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protect remaining habitat, especially in South and South-East Asia. Try to mitigate in advance against the loss of habitat to sea-level rise in Australia. Carry out range-wide surveys to accurately determine the total population size and trends. Prevent birds being captured for trade to collections and zoos in Asia. Control hunting of the species. Study the importance of flooded rice paddies for dispersal and linkage of sub-populations through genetic and telemetry studies (Sundar 2004, K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2007). In most areas of the species's range regulate landscape-scale farming practices and development projects to incorporate maintenance and preservation of natural wetlands, and reduce changes in land-use such as conversion to drier crops (Sundar 2004). Carry out more research into its breeding biology and behaviour (Maheswaran 2003b). Continue to monitor wetlands in northern Cambodia (using photo-traps) to help understand breeding biology and success (K.S.G. Sundar in litt. 2007).

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Conservation

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).
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Wikipedia

Black-necked Stork

The Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) is a tall long-necked wading bird in the stork family. It is a resident species across South and Southeast Asia with a disjunct population in Australia. It lives in wetland habitats to forage for a wide range of animal prey. Adult birds of both sexes have a heavy bill and are patterned in white and glossy blacks, but the sexes differ in the colour of the iris. In Australia, it is sometimes called a Jabiru although that name refers to a stork species found in the Americas. It is one of the few storks that is strongly territorial when feeding.

Description[edit]

Adult female in flight at the McArthur River in the Northern Territory of Australia

The Black-necked Stork is a large bird, 129–150 cm (51–60 inches) tall having a 230-cm (91-inch) wingspan.[2] The average weight is around 4100 grams.[3][4] The plumage patterns are conspicuous with younger birds differing from adults. Adults have a glossy bluish-black iridescent head, neck, secondary flight feathers and tail; a coppery-brown crown; a bright white back and belly; bill black with a slightly concave upper edge; and bright red legs. The sexes are identical but the adult female has a yellow iris while the adult male has it brown. Juveniles younger than 6 months have a brownish iris; a distinctly smaller and straighter beak; a fluffy appearance; brown head, neck, upper back, wings and tail; a white belly; and dark legs. Juveniles older than 6 months have a mottled appearance especially on the head and neck where the iridescence is partly developed; dark-brown outer primaries; white inner primaries that forms a shoulder patch when the wings are closed; a heavy beak identical in size to adults but still straighter; and dark to pale-pink legs.[5] Like most storks, the Black-necked Stork flies with the neck outstretched, not retracted like a heron. In flight it appears spindly and a black bar running through the white wings (the somewhat similar looking migratory Black Stork has an all black wing[6]) with black neck and tail make it distinctive.[7][8]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

Male at Perth Zoo, Australia

First described by John Latham as Mycteria asiatica, this species was later placed in the genus Xenorhynchus based on morphology.[9] Based on behavioural similarities, Kahl[10] suggested the placement of the species in the genus Ephippiorhynchus, which then included a single species, the Saddle-billed Stork. This placement of both the Black-necked Stork and Saddle-billed Stork under the same genera was later supported by osteological and behavioural data,[11] and DNA-DNA hybridisation and Cytochrome – b data.[12] The genera Xenorhynchus and Ephippiorhynchus were both erected at the same time, and as first revisor, Kahl[10] selected the latter as the valid genus for the two species. This and the Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis are the only stork species that show marked sexual dimorphism in iris colour.[10]

Two subspecies are recognized E. a. asiaticus of the Oriental region and E. a. australis of south New Guinea and Australia.[3] Charles Lucien Bonaparte erected the genus Xenorhynchus in 1855 and placed two species in it, X. indica and X. australis.[13] This treatment was carried on into later works.[14][15] James Lee Peters in his 1931 work treated them as subspecies.[16] In 1989, McAllan and Bruce[17] again suggested the elevation of the two subspecies into two species: E. asiaticus or the Green-necked Stork of the Oriental region, and E. australis or the Black-necked Stork of the Australian and New Guinean region. This recommendation was based on the disjunct distributions and differences in the iridescent coloration of the neck which the authors suggested might reflect different behavioral displays. This recommendation has not been followed and a subsequent study did not find consistent differences in the colours.[4] Analysis of the cytochrome b mitochondrial sequences however showed significant genetic divergence.[12] The genetic distance of a stork presumed to be Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus asiaticus from a confirmed individual of E. a. australis was 2.1%, much greater than the genetic distances between individual storks of the same species. The conservative treatment as two subspecies has been followed in the Australian faunal list by Christidis and Boles.[18]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

In India, it is widespread in the west, central highlands, and northern Gangetic plains into the Assam valley, but somewhat rare in peninsular India and Sri Lanka.[19][20][21] This distinctive stork is an occasional straggler in southern and eastern Pakistan.[22] It extends into Southeast Asia, through New Guinea and into the northern half of Australia.[3][4] Compared to other large waterbirds like cranes, spoonbills and other species of storks, Black-necked Storks are least abundant in locations with a high diversity of waterbird species.[23][24]

The largest population of this species occurs in Australia, where it is found from the Ashburton River, near Onslow, Western Australia across northern Australia to north-east New South Wales. It extends inland in the Kimberley area to south of Halls Creek; in the Northern Territory to Hooker Creek and Daly Waters; and in Queensland inland to the Boulia area and the New South Wales border, with some records as far south as the north-west plains of New South Wales, along the coast of Sydney and formerly bred near the Shoalhaven River.[25][26] It is rare along the south-east extremity of its range, but common throughout the north. An estimated 1800 occur in the Alligator Rivers region of the Northern Territory, with overall numbers during surveys being low in all seasons.[23]

The largest known breeding population occurs in the largely cultivated landscape of south-western Uttar Pradesh in India.[27] Densities of about 0.099 birds per square kilometre have been estimated in this region made up of a mosaic of cultivated fields and wetlands.[24] About six pairs were found to use the 29 square kilometres of the Keoladeo National Park.[28]

In Sri Lanka, the species is a rare breeding resident, with 4–8 breeding pairs in Ruhuna National Park.[29] It is exceedingly rare, and possibly extinct as a breeding bird, in Bangladesh[30] and Thailand.[31]

Black-necked Storks forage in a variety of natural and artificial wetland habitats. They frequently use freshwater, natural wetland habitats such as lakes, ponds, marshes, flooded grasslands, oxbow lakes, swamps, rivers and water meadows.[3][4] Freshwater, artificial wetland habitats used by these storks include flooded fallow and paddy fields, wet wheat fields, irrigation storage ponds and canals, sewage ponds, and dry floodplains.[3][4][32] In cultivated areas, they prefer natural wetlands to forage in, though flooded rice paddies are preferentially used during the monsoon, likely due to excessive flooding of lakes and ponds.[32] Nests are usually on trees that are located in secluded parts of large marshes[3][4][28] or in cultivated fields as in India.[27]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

This large stork has a dance-like display. A pair stalk up to each other face to face, extending their wings and fluttering the wing tips rapidly and advancing their heads until the meet. They then clatter their bills and walk away. The display lasts for a minute and may be repeated several times.[33]

A female foraging (Bharatpur, India)

Nest building in India commences during the peak of the monsoon with most of the nests initiated during September – November, with few new nests built afterward until January.[27] They nest in large and isolated trees on which they build a platform. The nest is large, as much as 3 to 6 feet across and made up of sticks, branches and lined with rushes, water-plants and sometimes with a mud plaster on the edges. Nests may be reused year after year. The usual clutch is four eggs which are dull white in colour and broad oval in shape, but varies from 1–5 eggs.[6][33] The exact incubation period is not known but is expected to be about 30 days. The chicks hatch with white down which is replaced by a darker grey down on the neck within a week. The scapular feathers emerge first followed by the primaries. The young birds make a chack sound followed by a repeated wee-wee-wee calls.[34] Adult birds take turns at the nest and when one returns to relieve the other, they perform a greeting display with open wings and an up and down movement of the head.[10] Food is brought for the young chicks by the adults and regurgitated onto the nest platform.[35] Adults stop feeding the young at the nest and begin to show aggression towards the chicks after they are about 3 or 4 months old. The young birds may stay on nearby for about a year but disperse soon. Typically 1–3 chicks fledge from successful nests, but up to four chicks fledge in years with high rainfall.[27][36][37] Number of stork pairs that succeed in raising chicks, and average size of fledged broods, are related to total monsoonal rainfall as well as total post-monsoon rainfall, improving in years with higher rainfall.[37]

At the nest trees, which are typically tall with large boles and a wide-canopy, the birds in Bharatpur were found to compete with Indian White-backed Vultures sometimes failing to nest due to them.[28] While many wetland birds are flushed by birds of prey, these storks are not usually intimidated[38] and on the other hand can be quite aggressive to other large water-birds such as herons and cranes.[39] Adults aggressively defend small depressions of deep water against egrets and herons (at Malabanjbanjdju in Kakadu National Park, Australia[40]), and drying wetland patches against waterbirds such as Spoonbills and Woolly-necked Storks (at Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh, India[41]).

Resting on its hocks (in Perth Zoo)

The Black-necked Stork is a carnivore and its diet includes water-birds such as coots,[42][43] and Little Grebes,[44] Northern Shoveller, Pheasant-tailed Jacana,[28] a range of aquatic vertebrates including fish, amphibians and reptiles[7] and invertebrates such as crabs and molluscs.[6] They have also been known to prey on the eggs and hatchlings of turtles. In the Chambal river valley they have been observed to locate nests of Kachuga dhongoka buried under sand (presumably by moistness of the freshly covered nest) and prey on the eggs of the turtle.[45] In Australia, they have been seen foraging at night feeding on emerging nestlings of marine turtles.[46] Stomach content analyses of nine storks in Australia showed their diet to contain crabs, molluscs, insects (grasshoppers and beetles), amphibians, reptiles and birds. The storks had also consumed a small piece of plastic, pebbles, cattle dung, and plant material.[47] Black-necked Storks fed almost exclusively on fish in wetlands located inside managed, protected areas in Australia and India.[40][41] Diet was much broader in an agricultural landscape in India and was dominated by fish, frogs and molluscs; storks obtained fish largely in wetlands, frogs from roadside ditches and molluscs from irrigation canals.[48]

They sometimes soar in the heat of the day or rest on their hocks.[35] When disturbed, they may stretch out their necks.[10] Their drinking behaviour involves bending down with open bill and scooping up water with a forward motion followed by raising the bill to swallow water. They sometimes carry water in their bill to chicks at the nest or even during nest building or egg stages.[10]

Like other storks, they are very silent except at nest where they make bill-clattering sounds. The sounds produced are of a low-pitch and resonant and ends with a short sigh.[7] Juveniles fledged from the nests can occasionally call using a mildly-warbling, high-pitched series of whistles, usually accompanied with open, quivering wings. These calls and behavior are directed at adult birds and are a display to solicit food, particularly in drought years when younger birds are apparently unable to find food on their own easily.[49][50]

Black-necked Storks are largely non-social and are usually seen as single birds, pairs and family groups.[32] Flocks of up to 15 storks have been observed in Australia and India, and appear to form due to local habitat conditions such as drying out of wetlands.[5]

The Black-necked Stork is the type-host for a species of ectoparasitic Ischnoceran bird louse, Ardeicola asiaticus [51] and a species of endoparasitic trematode Dissurus xenorhynchi.[52]

Status and conservation[edit]

The Black-necked Stork is widely scattered and nowhere found in high densities, making it difficult for populations to be reliably estimated. The Sri Lankan population has been estimated to be about 50 birds while the species has become very rare in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. The may have become extinct in the Sundaic region. The combined South and Southeast Asian population is placed at less than 1000 birds. A 2011 study found the population in south-western Uttar Pradesh to be stable, although population growth rates may decline with an increase in the number of dry years or land use changes that that permanently remove the number of breeding pairs.[37] The Australian population has been optimistically estimated at about 20,000 birds while a more conservative estimate suggests about 10,000 birds. They are threatened by habitat destruction, the draining of shallow wetlands, overfishing, pollution, collision with electricity wires and hunting.[49][53] Exceedingly few breeding populations with high breeding success are known.[27] It is evaluated as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN Red List.[1]

In culture[edit]

A painting of a sub-adult by Shaikh Zayn-al-Din (c. 1780) made for Lady Impey, probably based on a bird in the menagerie at Calcutta

The Mir Shikars, traditional bird hunters of Bihar in India had a ritual practice that required a young man to capture a Black-necked Stork "Loha Sarang" alive before he could marry. A procession would locate a bird and the bridegroom-to-be would try to catch the bird with a limed stick. The cornered bird was a ferocious adversary. The ritual was stopped in the 1920s after a young man was killed in the process.[54] Young birds have been known to be taken from the nest for meat in Assam.[55]

In Australia, an aboriginal creation myth describes the origin of the bill of the "jabiru" from a spear that went through the head of a bird.[56] The Binbinga people often consider the meat of the bird as taboo and eating its meat would cause an unborn child to cause the death of its mother. The Jabiru is known as "Karinji" and is the totem of a group known as the Karinji people.[57]

The difference in iris colour among the sexes was noted in 1865 by A D Bartlett, the superintendent in charge of the collection at the Zoological Society of London. The similarity in this aspect with the African Saddle-billed Stork was noted by Bartlett and commented on by J. H. Gurney.[58] Charles Darwin who corresponded with Bartlett was well aware of this and used it as one of the examples of sexual dimorphism among birds.[59] John Gould in his handbook to the birds of Australia noted that the meat of the bird "... has a fishy flavour, too over-powerful to admit of its being eaten by any one but a hungry explorer."[60]

References[edit]

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Other sources[edit]

  • Maheswaran, G. and Rahmani, A. R. (2002) Foraging behaviour and feeding success of the black-necked stork (Ephippiorhychus asiaticus) in Dudwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh, India. J. Zool. 258: 189–195.
  • Maheswaran, G. (1998) Ecology and behaviour of Black-necked Stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus Latham, 1790) in Dudwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh. Ph.D. thesis, Centre of Wildlife and Ornithology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.
  • Farah Ishtiaq, Sálim Javed, Malcolm C. Coulter, Asad R. Rahmani 2010 Resource Partitioning in Three Sympatric Species of Storks in Keoladeo National Park, India. Waterbirds 33(1):41–49
  • Maheshwaran G & AR Rahmani 2008 Foraging technique and prey-handling time in black-necked stork (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) Integrative Zoology 3(4):274–279 doi:10.1111/j.1749-4877.2008.00101.x
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