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Black Necked Stork


 

Black-necked Stork

 
Scientific name: Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not Listed 
 

Description 

 
The Black-necked Stork is the only species of stork found in Australia. The distinctive black-and-white waterbird stands an impressive 1.3m tall and has a wingspan of around 2m. The head and neck are black with an iridescent green and purple sheen. The massive bill, short tail and parts of the wings are also black and the long legs are a conspicuous orange-red to bright red. The rest of the body is white. Females have a yellow eye, the males dark-brown. Juvenile birds are generally brown. Black-necked Storks are usually seen singly or in pairs in NSW, occasionally in loose family groups. In flight, they may intersperse their slow, heavy wingbeats with short glides, or soar on thermals. Storks are generally silent.
 
Source: Pat Johnson/Bullarah

Distribution 

 
The species comprises two subspecies, the India and south-east Asian, and the Australian and New Guinea. In Australia, Black-necked Storks are widespread in coastal and subcoastal northern and eastern Australia, as far south as central NSW (although vagrants may occur further south). In NSW, the species can be found in our regional wetlands but rarely occurs south of Sydney. Since 1995, breeding has been recorded as far south as Bulahdelah and in the Gwydir Wetlands.
 
 

Habitat and ecology

 
Floodplain wetlands (swamps, billabongs, watercourses and dams) of the major rivers are the key habitat in regional NSW for the Black-necked Stork. 
Storks usually forage in water 5-30cm deep for vertebrate and invertebrate prey. Eels regularly contribute the greatest biomass to their diet, but they feed on a wide variety of animals, including other fish, frogs and invertebrates (such as beetles, grasshoppers, crickets and crayfish).
Black-necked Storks build large nests high in tall trees close to water. Trees usually provide clear observation of the surroundings and are at low elevation (reflecting the floodplain habitat).
In NSW, breeding activity occurs May - January; incubation May - October; nestlings July - January; fledging from September. Parents share nest duties and in one study about 1.3-1.7 birds were fledged per nest.
The NSW breeding population has been estimated at about 75 pairs. Territories are large and variable in size. They have been estimated to average about 9,000ha, ranging from 3,000-6,000ha in high quality habitat and 10,000-15,000ha in areas where habitat is poor or dispersed.
 

Threats 

 
Powerlines, especially close to wetlands or over floodplains, are a significant cause of mortality of Storks and one of the most critical threats to the species in NSW.
Modification or destruction of wetlands through changes in natural water flows. It is therefore important to maintain or reintroduce flows to provide wetland habitats suitable for foraging by Storks as they require large amounts of vertebrate prey from such habitats.
Loss of wetland habitat through land clearing and draining.
Loss of key habitat as a result of wetland drainage for flood mitigation and agricultural development.
Degradation of wetland habitats through pollution.
Loss of paddock trees used for nesting.
Degradation of wetlands as a result of salinity.
 
Source: Curtis Hayne

Activities to assist this species 

 
Prevent them flying into powerlines, by routing or re-routing powerlines away from potential habitats and by attaching discs to existing powerlines where Storks, and other birds, regularly fly.
Manage wetlands and their catchments to ensure natural flow regimes are maintained to provide suitable habitat for Storks seasonally and annually, including during periods of drought.
Avoid modification and destruction of wetland habitats or any reduction of levels of Black-necked Stork prey within them, as a result of land clearing, over grazing, urban and agricultural run-off and pollution, including pesticides and herbicides. 
Prevent widespread clearance of of tall isolated paddock trees that provide or potentially provide suitable nesting sites for the species, and also avoid widespread clearance of floodplain vegetation.
Minimise human disturbance around known and potential nesting sites and preferred wetlands.
Provide advice to consent and planning authorities regarding the impact of powerlines and other infrastructure on the species.
 
Source: Curtis Hayne

Recovery strategies

 
A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program. For more information on the Saving Our Species program visit the link below:
 

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