What a Big Beak You Have!
The black-necked stork is well adapted for a life wading through the waters of Asia and Australia where they can hunt for a range of animal prey. Prey is seized using their large beak and then bashed against the ground before they eat it.
Their large wings can stretch up to 230cm from tip to tip. These birds are capable of flight and will move through the skies in small flocks.
What does the Black-Necked Stork look like?
Adults have a bluey-black head and neck. The top of the head is a coppery-purple. The beak is black. The midsection is white and so are the wings which have a black stripe down the middle. Their long legs are colored red or pink.
To differentiate between the sexes you can look at the eyes. The females are yellow while those of the male are brown.
Juvenile black necked storks look like their parents. The main difference is that they have brown where the adults have black.
The black necked stork is a tall bird measuring up to 135cm (53in). When fully outstretched their wings measure 230cm (90.5in) from tip to tip. The average black necked stork weighs 4.1kg (9lbs).
How does the Black-Necked Stork survive in its habitat?
The long legs and neck of the black-necked stork are adaptations which allow them to wade through the water without getting the majority of their body wet. They will use this adaptation to easily enter the water and hunt for a range of prey species.
What does the Black-Necked Stork eat?
The black necked stork is a carnivore. They feed on fish, amphibians, crustaceans, small water birds, mammals and insects. Eels form a major component within their diet.
The stork will stand at the water’s edge and impale the prey with their beak. They then pick it up and eat it. Prey may also be broken in to smaller pieces by tearing it or by taking it in the bill and then slamming it in to ground several times. In some areas they have been observed to take prey from other birds.
Where do you the find the Black-Necked Stork?
Black necked storks range across Australia and South-East Asia. Here they live throughout the following countries – Australia, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka.
In Australia the species can be found in the North of the country through the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. They are the only species of stork to be recorded in Australia.
The species is listed as extinct within Pakistan and Thailand with it being potentially extinct in Bangladesh.
Where can the Black-Necked Stork survive?
They favour areas with a large permanent body of water. They also inhabit the floodplains of rivers and other wetland areas. If searching for food they may wander into open woodlands, grasslands or flooded agricultural areas.
How does the Black-Necked Stork produce its young?
The breeding season for this species is between March and May. When the storks meet they perform a dance lasting several minutes. The pair will bond for many years and sometimes may stay together for life.
When it’s time to breed the birds will find a large tree and build a platform in the tree. The platform is formed from sticks, grasses and water plants. This platform may be 3-6 feet in length. Occasionally a pair will place mud around the edges. Both the male and female contribute to building the nest.
Into the nest the females can deposit 1-5 white eggs but the average is 4. The average time until the eggs hatch is about 30 days.
The parents go out to eat and come back to feed the chicks by regurgitating some of their food. By 3 to 4 months it’s time for the chicks to move out. Sometimes they may stay in the territory of their parents for up to a year. In a normal year 3 chicks would be the maximum raised. If the rainfall is incredibly good all of the chicks in the nest may be raised.
What does the Black-Necked Stork do during its day?
The black necked stork makes a range of calls, mainly a guttural grunt. They will also snap or clack their bills.
These birds are mostly seen either alone or in a pair. Larger groups are typically only seen during the breeding season when pairs and their young may move together.
Predators and Threats
What stops the Black-Necked Stork from surviving and thriving?
Overall the population of the black-necked stork is in decline. Much of this decline is across the population in Asia while the Australian population is listed as stable.
Humans pose a number of threats to the survival of this bird. These include habitat loss (primarily through the draining of wetlands), removal of nesting trees, hunting and capture for the zoo industry. Powerlines pose a threat to the black-necked stork as they may collide with them when in flight.
Black necked storks are commonly referred to as Jabirus. This common name is more commonly applied to the jabiru found in the Americas. The Australian population may also be known as the Satin stork.
BirdLife International. 2016. Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22697702A93631316. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22697702A93631316.en. Accessed on 15 May 2023.
Clancy, G.P. (2011) ‘The feeding behaviour and diet of the Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus australis in northern New South Wales’, Corella, (36), pp. 17–23.
SUNDAR, K.S. (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(4), pp. 323–334. doi:10.1017/s0959270904000358.
Maheswaran, G. and Rahmani, A.R. (2002) ‘Foraging behaviour and feeding success of the black‐necked stork (ephippiorhynchus asiaticus) in Dudwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh, India’, Journal of Zoology, 258(2), pp. 189–195. doi:10.1017/s0952836902001309.
Australian Museum Staff (no date) Black-necked stork, The Australian Museum. Available at: https://australian.museum/learn/animals/birds/black-necked-stork/ (Accessed: 18 May 2023).
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