The Painted Stork is tall and slender, standing about 3 feet tall. It is mostly white in color, with black and white markings on its wing and chest feathers. It also has light pink on its lower back. Its legs are pink also. Its head is partly bare of feathers, and is orange-red in color, and its bill is long, yellowish, and slightly curved towards the end. Both male and female look the same, though the female is slightly smaller in height.
The favorite food of the Painted Stork is fish, though sometimes they will eat frogs as well. The stork sticks its head into shallow water, with its bill partially open, and swings its head back and forth in search of fish. Sometimes it will use a wing to direct fish towards its bill. When it senses it has touched a fish or frog with its bill, it snaps it shut, capturing its prey. They will also eat snails.
This species of stork can be found in the freshwater marshes, ponds, and flooded fields of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, eastern China, Kampuchea, and Vietnam. It is found in small numbers in Thailand also, but it’s almost extinct in that area and considered threatened in some other areas. It is a protected species at this time.
Some of the animals that prey upon the Painted Stork include big cats like tigers, leopards, and jungle cats, as well as hyenas and crocodiles, and sometimes humans.
Painted Storks live together in large colonies near water. They often share their habitat with other species of storks, as well as herons, ibises, cormorants, and spoonbills. These particular storks make their large nests in the trees close to the water’s edge. The nests are made with sticks and lined with leaves. The males do most of the stick gathering, while the females build the nests with the sticks brought back by their mates.
Birth & Offspring
Breeding season for the Painted Stork is at the end of the rainy season. At mating time, the male storks perform many ritualistic displays in order to attract a mate. They will preen, fly about, and snap their bills, all in hopes of getting a female stork’s attention. Once mated, the pair builds their nest.
The female stork lays 3 to 5 eggs, and then incubation lasts for 27 to 32 days. Both parents incubate their eggs, and both care for their young. Once the hatchlings break free of their shells, they are fed regurgitated fish by their parents until they are able to catch their own food. The baby storks are sheltered from the sun by their parents’ partially opened wings.
When the storks are young, they are able to make a loud call to attract the attention of their parents, but by the time they are 18 months old they are practically voiceless, just like the adult storks. The young storks are brownish in color when they hatch, and don’t grow in their full adult feathers, or plumage, until they are 3 years old. They are fully mature at 4 years old.
As with most other birds, sight and hearing are probably the Painted Stork’s most important senses. Communication when young is a loud raucous call; after 18 months old, the storks communicate mainly by clattering their large bills or hissing, or by visual “displays” such as bowing to each other or spreading their large wings.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.