If you are ever so lucky to spot a black-necked stork in Yala, appreciate it! There is only one known pair of them in Yala, residing in Block I.
It is not easy to distinguish the female from the male as their appearance is similar and they only differ in iris colour; male storks have dark brown and female storks yellow irises. The birds are the tallest in Sri Lanka, with a size of 121-135 cm. They have bright red legs and with its plain white plumage and its shiny black beak, head and neck, the black-necked stork makes the impression as if it has been dipped into a thick layer of oil.
The black-necked stork is critically endangered in Sri Lanka, with about only 50 birds left on the island. It is just a scrap of comfort that this beautiful bird is evaluated as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List when taking its other habitats into consideration. The bird also occurs in India, Southeast Asia, New Guinea and Australia and it is estimated that there exist around 11,000 to 20,000 of these conspicuous animals altogether.
Taken the rarity into account it is even more amazing that late September Sajith spotted a black-necked stork juvenile in Block II! This suggests that there are probably more birds in Yala than assumed! Usually the clutch varies from one to five eggs, making it likely that the young stork has siblings that have not been spotted yet.
The young stork will be fed by his parents for about three to four months, after which the parents begin to show aggression towards the chick. By chance our guests can spot this newly discovered stork feeding on small water birds, fish or crabs in shallow water areas or spot it gliding up in the air with gracefully slow wing beats in the near future. We are keen on following the little one’s progress!