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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.


History
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Near Threatened (NT)
  • Lower Risk/near threatened (LR/nt)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)
  • Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)