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Painted stork with the scientific name Mycteria leucocephala is a large wading bird in the Stork family.
It is called by various names by Indians as Janghil Dockh in Hindi, Kankari in Bihar, sona jhanga in Bengal, yeru kala konga in Telugu and sangurvalai narai in Tamil.It is amongst the 17 species of stork found around the world.
The quick classification of Painted Stork is given below,
Painted stork is a large wading bird amongst other storks.It has a long and heavy yellow colored bill which is slightly decurved at the tip. Their face is yellow and waxy with no feathers.Their plumage is white, closely barred and colored with shining greenish black over a rose-pink combination on its shoulders and wings. The head is bare and colored with orange or red.The long tertials are tipped in bright pink.They possess a unique black breast band with white scaly markings.
The black band continues towards the underwing area and the white tips can be found running across the underwing forming a lining around. The rest of the body is almost white in adults and black with green glisten in case of young ones. The legs are usually yellowish to red in color. The tail is short and black with a glossy green. They are 93 to 102 cm tall.
Their wings are 150 to 160 cm in length and they weigh about 2 to 3.5 kg. The young storks are white with grey bills and black colored facial look. Their plumage is brown in color and reaches maturity by 2 to 3 years of age.
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They are usually seen in groups by stirring the water with their half opened bill to catch up fishes.
The nest is made up of large stick platform with a shallow depression in the middle and lined with leaves and straw.
They build 10 to 20 nests in a single tree and almost nearer to each other. They share their nest with cormorants, egrets, pelicans, openbill storks and white ibises. They nest in colonies. They produce sounds like moaning clattering while taking rest at the nest.
These birds are not migratory and make only short distance movements within their range in search of food and for breeding.
The Painted Stork could be seen widely in the plains of Asia. They are found south of the Himalayan range and are bounded on the west by the Indus River where they are rarely observed and extend towards the east till Southeast Asia. These birds don't prefer hanging around the very dry or desert regions, dense forests and the higher hilly regions. They are typically seen on freshwater wetlands and in the islands. Except for occassional migration they are resident in most regions. Young birds may disperse far from their breeding sites maximum to a distance of about 800 kilometers.
These birds usually feed in groups in shallow wetlands. They prefer a depth of about 12 to 25 cm in shallow water. They feed majorly on small fishes which are easy for them to sense while they are slowly sweeping their half-opened bill side to side inside the water. They walk slowly in the water and also stir the water with their feet to flush the small fishes. After they are fed the birds stand still on the shore for long durations. Occassionally they feed on frogs and snake. They forage mainly in the day and at times during night hours.
Mating and Nesting
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Painted stork attains maturity at the age of 2 to 3 years.
The bird develops a bare red skin on its head followed by the loss of feathers and deposition of lipids under its skin during its breeding maturity. The breeding season generally begins during the winter seasons soon after the monsoons.
In northern parts of India, the breeding season begins in middle of August while in southern parts of India the breeding season and nest initiation begins around October and drags till February sometimes until April. One could notice lot of variation in the onset of breeding across various sites.
For instances the breeding season intitates during January or February at Kokrebellur and Edurupattu but at Telineelapuram, Kundakulam and Tirunelveli the breeding season begins around October or November. Generally the clutch varies from 2 to 5 eggs. The incubation period lasts for about a month while the fledging period is about two months.
During the mid-day heat, adults are seen standing at the nest with position wherein their wings are outstretched to shade their chicks. In order to feed the chicks, the adults regurgitate fish that they have preyed which are typically smaller than 20 cm long. The chicks require around 500 grams of food a day which may come around 9 fishes fed in two sessions.
Birds in captivity have been known to live till 28 years. Predation of eggs happens mainly by crows and sometimes the very young chicks are attacked by crows and the slightly older chicks are attacked by Black Kites. They build nests at the top of the trees and typically in the undisturbed areas.
They are native to India and can be seen in various parts of India like Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra pradesh, Kerala, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, etc. Other than India they are distributed in other Asian countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.
Threats and Conservation
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Painted Storks being a colourful and attractive bird drags lots of touristers.
Their nesting colonies becomes the centre of tourist interest. One could find the nest site close to the human settlements and which may include colonies in the villages of South India like Kokrebellur and Veerapura.
In Kokrebellur, the birds nest within the trees in the village forming colonies with Spot-billed Pelican. The local people safeguard the brids during the nesting season usually in the month of October till they migrate.
They could also be seen in Delhi Zoological Garden forming colonies of 300 to 600 birds and they stay there for 30 to 40 days after the onset of Monsoon. Other breeding sites are Uppalapadu village, Kolleru and Ranganathittu in the state of Andhra Pradesh, South India.
Subspecies of Painted Stork in India
The various species of Stork that can be found in India are,
1. ASIAN OPENBILL-STORK (Anstomus oscitans)
2. EUROPEAN WHITE STORK (Ciconia ciconia)
3. WHITE-NECKED STORK (Ciconia episcopus)
4. BLACK STORK (Ciconia nigra)
5. BLACK-NECKED STORK (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus)
Interesting Facts about Painted Stork
•A stork has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
•These storks are colony nesters and often mix nest with pelicans.
•These Storks can hiss, croak, honk, squeal and whistle.
•Their predators include Tigers, hyenas, leopards, crocodiles and at times humans.