Friday, April 05, 2013

Storks (Phylum Chordata: Order Ciconiiformes) of Singapore

Storks (phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, superclass Tetrapoda, class Aves, order Ciconiiformes) are birds with long bills, long necks, short tails and long legs. They resemble the herons, but have stouter bills.

Here are some of the storks that can be seen in Singapore.

Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans)
The Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans) is a very rare vagrant. In fact, this stork was only recorded in January 2013. The adult stork has a bill that cannot be closed completely, and hence the common name "openbill". Young storks can close their bills completely though, but as they mature the bills eventually open up. This stork has a white body and a black tail. It is usually found near freshwater bodies, such as rivers and lakes. It feeds mostly on snails. This large bird grows to about 80cm tall.

Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus)
The Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus) is another rare vagrant. This bird has a very large bill, bare head, bare neck, black wings and white belly. The neck has yellowish skin. This very distinctive bird can reach heights of more than 125cm. It is usually seen in coastal areas and marshlands, along rivers, or near lakes. It feeds on small fishes, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates.

Milky Storks (Mycteria cinerea)
Free-ranging storks from the Zoo and Bird Park can sometimes be seen as well. The Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea) featured in the above photo, and the Painted Stork (M. leucocephala) are two commonly seen free-ranging species. They grow to about 100cm tall. The former has a black-and-white plumage, while the latter is also black-and-white but has a broad black band over its wing and a pinkish rear end.

  • Briffett, C. 1986. A guide to the common birds of Singapore. Singapore Science Centre. 160 pp.
  • Robson, C. 2010. New Holland field guide to the birds of South-East Asia. London: New Holland Publishers. 304 pp.
  • Singapore Birds. Retrieved Mar 25, 2013,
  • Strange, M. 2000. Photographic guide to the birds of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Periplus. 398 pp.

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