|At a Glance|
|Wingspan||175cm Height: 85cm|
|Conservation Status||Near-threatened in South Africa|
The Woolly-necked Stork is a large bird, typically 85 cm tall. It is all black except for the woolly white neck and white lower belly. The upperparts are glossed dark green, and the breast and belly have a purple hue. Juvenile birds are duller versions of the adult.
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.
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.
The species is predominantly carnivorous, its diet consisting of fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, large insects and larvae, crabs, molluscs and marine invertebrates. It forages by slowly walking through water or vegetation, stabbing at prey.
Monogamous and usually a solitary nester, although it may breed in loose colonies of 4-5 pairs.
The nest is built by both sexes, consisting of a platform of sticks with a central bowl lined with fine twigs, grass and green leaves. It is typically placed in the fork of a horizontal branch of a large tree, 10-50 metres above ground or water.
Egg-laying season is from August-December.
It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 30-31 days.
The chicks are fed and brooded by both parents, leaving the nest to roost in a nearby tree at about 55-65 days old, becoming fully independent roughly three weeks later.
Occurs from India and Sri Lanka to the Philippines, with a separate population in sub-Saharan Africa. In southern Africa, it is uncommon in Mozambique, northern and southern Zimbabwe, northern Botswana, northern Namibia (including the Caprivi Strip) and eastern South Africa.
It can occupy almost any wetland habitat, generally preferring flood plains, rivers, pans, ponds, dams, lagoons, swamp forests, mangrove swamps, tidal mudflats, estuaries and also man-made habitats, including golf courses, firebreaks and roads in plantations.
Not threatened globally, although Near-threatened in South Africa, due to low population numbers largely caused by habitat destruction.
Until a few years ago these birds were hardly ever seen in the Kloof area but since the late 2000’s the numbers have steadily increased.
They can be often seen in Memorial Park and there is a nest in the pine tree at the intersection of Alamein Avenue and Buckingham Road.
This species now appears to be resident in the area.
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.
The scientific name “episcopus” means ‘bishop’ and is derived from the black “skullcap” typical on these birds.
A sound clip is available on SoundCloud.