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Fr: Cigogne episcopale
All : Wollhalsstorch
Esp: Cigüeña Lanuda
Ital: Cicogna collolanoso
Nd: Bisschopooievaar
Sd: Ullhalsstork


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HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

A photographic guide to Birds of the Philippines by Tim Fisher and Nigel Hicks. New Holland Publishers. ISBN: 9781847738301

A photographic guide to Birds of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos by Peter Davidson. New Holland Publishers. ISBN: 9781847731418

A Field Guide to the Birds of South-East Asia by Craig Robson. New Holland Publishers. ISBN: 9781780090498

BIRDS OF AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan - Princeton University Press Princeton and Oxford - ISBN: 0691118159

ROBERTS BIRDS OF SOUTH AFRICA by G. R. Mc Lachlan and R. Liversidge – The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fuund – ISBN: 0620031182

BIRDS OF THE GAMBIA AND SENEGAL by Clive Barlow and Tim Wacher – Helm Field guides – ISBN: 0713675497

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Summary cards


Woolly-necked Stork
Ciconia episcopus

Ciconiiforme Order – Ciconiidae Family

Length: 86-95 cm

The Woolly-necked Stork is an elegant bird found in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and SE Asia.

The adult has glossy black plumage with blue, green and purple iridescences. Wings and tail are black too. The woolly neck, belly and undertail-coverts are white, as lower back and rump. The forked black tail is concealed by the long white undertail-coverts, appearing white seen from below.

In the race “microscelis” from Tropical Africa, the head shows black face and white rear crown and nape.
The long bill is black with red tip from half length. The eyes are red. Legs and feet are blackish.

Race microscelis

In the nominate race “episcopus” from India to Indochina, N Malay Peninsula and Philippines, the bare face is grey. Forecrown and crown are black and well defined.
The large bill is grey with reddish tip. The eyes are deep red. Legs and feet are red.

Race episcopus

In the race “neglecta” from Java and Wallacea, the head is similar to “episcopus” but the bill is mostly red with grey base.
However, the validity of this race is disputed.

Both sexes are similar.
The juvenile is duller and browner, and lacks the blue and purple iridescences. The black forehead extends further back on crown.
The bill is pale greyish. The eyes are dark. Legs and feet are duller.

The Woolly-necked Stork is usually silent, but it may give some croaking “honk” seldom heard. But as most of Ciconiidae species, they perform bill-clattering at nest.

Race microscelis

The Woolly-necked Stork is usually found near or in a large variety of wetlands such as rivers, marshes, lakes, ricefields, flood plains and pastures, swamp forest…
In India, it prefers waterlogged ground.
In E Africa, it is found in coastal areas, on mudflats and coral reefs, but also in savanna, grassland and cultivated areas.
This species can be found in clearings and light woodland or forest marshes, but it usually avoids the true forest.
It can be seen from 1200-1400 metres of elevation, up to 3000 metres in E Africa.

The Woolly-necked Stork is found in Sub-Saharan Africa except the extreme southern regions, in India except the west coast, and in SE Asia.

Race microscelis

The Woolly-necked Stork feeds on fish, amphibians, snakes and lizards, crabs, molluscs and marine invertebrates. It is attracted to grass fires where it catches large quantities of grasshoppers and locusts.

This species is usually seen alone, walking about slowly on the ground and along water. It picks up the preys with the long bill. It is also attracted to termite emergences.

Race microscelis

Although not very gregarious, it may be seen sometimes in pairs or small groups near water, but they rarely wade.
This stork is often seen standing motionless or resting on the tarsi.

Race episcopus
Race episcopus. In order to crouch onto the ground, it lowers the breast first, and then the rest of the body!

The Woolly-necked Storks are solitary nesters and both mates probably stay together all year round. As other Ciconiidae species, they perform the usual courtship displays. They make bill-clatters at nest, with the head resting back on the upper back.
But the solitary breeders often have far less elaborate courtship rituals. The pairs are more or less permanent and the same nest is reused year after year.

This species is mainly resident. It is an intra-African migrant, performing regional N-S movements, sometimes in large flocks. It is also resident in Asia, but subject to some movements too.

Race microscelis

The Woolly-necked Stork is often seen soaring high overhead thanks to the large wings. They occasionally congregate in large numbers on thermals, where they sometimes soar with large raptors.

The breeding season varies with the range, in July-September in N India and in December-March in S India, usually in dry season throughout Africa, and in February-May and August-November in SE Asia where they probably breed all year round.
It breeds solitary, although some pairs may nest close together in E Africa.
The Woolly-necked Stork nests in trees. It builds a large stick platform with a central depression lined with grass and rubbish, placed high in tall tree, between 20 and 30 metres above the ground.

Race microscelis

The female lays 2-4 white eggs becoming brown-stained later. The incubation lasts about one month, shared by both parents. At hatching, the chicks are covered in grey down with buff neck. They are fed by regurgitation into the nest by both adults, and each chick takes its own part. They fledge 55-65 days after hatching, when they are able to fly. They usually remain dependent on the adults for some weeks more.

The Woolly-necked Stork feeds on marine invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, crustaceans, molluscs and large insects, caught at bush fires and while walking slowly on the ground.

The Woolly-necked Stork is uncommon throughout the range, although widespread.
It is regionally threatened in SE Asia, due to habitat fragmentation and destruction, persecution and shooting.
It is Critically Endangered in the Philippines.
In Africa, this species is uncommon to rare, but numbers are probably stables.
It is still fairly common in most parts of India and populations appear fairly secure.
However, the species is currently evaluated as Least Concern by Birdlife International.

Race episcopus
Race episcopus