Woolly-necked stork or white-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus), a ‘near- threatened’ aquatic and wading species, has been spotted consecutively for the last two years in the paddy fields along the Chittur-Palakkad road.
Q. Ashoka Chakkaravarthy, a wildlife conservation biologist, who spotted the stork said that the birds were spotted in January 2022 and then again in January 2023 in the same paddy field.
Woolly-necked stork, which was earlier listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the International Union Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List has moved to ‘near threatened’ in recent years.
The species is considered residents of Africa, although they actively migrate to Asia, including India, and Indonesia. The woolly-necked stork belongs to Ciconiidae family and are considered large wading birds. The bird has black underwing, white tail, black head and white neck and underbelly. It has deep red eyes and the large bill is grey with a reddish tip. The legs and feet are also predominantly red in colour. It can be seen in single or in small flocks,” he said.
The stork is predominantly carnivorous with a diet consisting of fish, frogs, toads, snakes and lizards. The species is known to inhabit wetlands, marshes, rivers, ponds and lakes.
“According to studies, the woolly-necked storks in India use remote wetlands inside forests, which makes them hard to study since they share their habitat with tigers. The species is sensitive to human presence. However, they have been spotted near agricultural landscape because of the availability of food. It is noticed that the woolly-necked storks have been changing their nesting behaviour,” Mr. Chakkaravarthy said.