Monday, April 23, 2012

Painted Stork

Mycteria leucocephala
The Painted Stork is a rightly colorful wading bird found in south and southeast Asia. They have bright yellow beaks, orange-ish heads, black and white banding across the body and wings, and bright pink tertial feathers. Males and females share that same bright coloration, though you can tell the sexes apart by the body and beak size (males tend to be larger).

The coloration on the Painted Stork also becomes more dull when it is outside of the breeding season. Plumage plays an important role in finding a mate, as does dancing! When seeking out a partner, the male Storks perform elaborate bows. If a female likes the male's bow, they will do a bit of a dance. One paired up the couple will go on to build a platform-like nest out of sticks and vegetation. These birds are highly gregarious during the breeding season, and sometimes nests end up almost on top of one another. Both parents incubate the eggs and feed the hatched chicks using regurgitated fish. Delicious!

As adults, the Painted Storks use their large bills to forage. They wade very slowly in shallow water (typically less and 1ft deep), and probe around with their bill partially open. If they hit something, they snap their bill shut. Fish make up most of the diet, though they do also eat Amphibians and Crustaceans.

Painted Storks are listed as Near Threatened because of habitat loss, hunting, and pollution. The birds do live within some protected areas, but the population continues to be on a downward trend.

IUCN Status : Near Threatened
Location : South Asia
Size : Height up to 40in (1m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Ciconiiformes
Family : Ciconiidae -- Genus : Mycteria -- Species : M. leucocephala

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