This stork qualifies as Vulnerable because it is suspected to be undergoing a rapid population decline owing to on-going habitat loss, human disturbance, hunting and trade. However, further data are needed on rates of decline in Sumatra, its stronghold.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationMycteria cinerea
92-97 cm. White stork with thick, yellowish bill and blackish flight feathers. Juvenile has paler brown, more streaked head and neck, and darker wing-coverts contrasting sharply with upperparts. Similar spp. Painted Stork M. leucocephalus has black markings on wing-coverts and breast, pink on inner wing-coverts and tertials and more restricted naked head skin.
occurs in Cambodia
, Peninsular Malaysia
and the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sumbawa, Sulawesi and Buton, Indonesia
(BirdLife International 2001). Its population is estimated at fewer than 5,500 individuals. The majority are in Indonesia, with fewer than 5,000 on Sumatra and c.400 in west Java. A 2008-2009 survey estimated the Sumatra population at less than 1450 individuals (Iqbal in litt.
2012). There are estimated to be c.10-20 pairs at Tonle Sap lake, Cambodia (J. Eames in litt.
. It is a vagrant to Thailand and Vietnam. Numbers have apparently declined, at least in some parts of its range, with counts from Malaysia falling consistently from over 100 individuals in 1984, to fewer than 10 birds in 2005 (Malaysian Nature Society 2005, Li et al.
. Only a single wild bird was recorded in the Matang Mangrove Forest in 2010 (DWNP 2010). Its status in Indonesia has received less study, but although good numbers can still be found at some sites in southern Sumatra (Iqbal and Hasudungan 2008), there are reports that numbers have declined considerably (Li et al.
2006, M. Iqbal in litt.
2006, Iqbal and Hasudungan 2008)
. In June 2008, after a gap of eight years, a breeding colony was documented in South Sumatra at Kumpai lake, and was estimated to contain 100-115 nests (Iqbal et al
. 2008). Interviews with local people have produced evidence of other breeding colonies in South Sumatra (Iqbal et al
. 2009). An apparently stable population of at least 278 birds has been noted around the village of Percut in North Sumatra (Shepherd and Giyanto 2009).Population justification
Silvius and Verheugt (1989) estimated 5,000 individuals in Sumatra in the late 1980s, and M. Silvius (in litt.
2002) estimated 100-150 individuals in Java. The total in Indonesia is now likely to be in litt. 2005). Population in Malaysia estimated to be 10 in 2005, with 20-30 in Cambodia (H. Chamnan in litt.
2004). The overall population therefore likely to total c.5,000 individuals or fewer, roughly equating to 3,300 mature individuals.Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be declining rapidly in line with intense hunting pressure at nesting colonies and the rapid loss and conversion of coastal habitat.Ecology
It is a predominantly coastal resident in Indonesia and Malaysia, inhabiting mangroves and adjacent, less saline, swamps. It forages on tidal mudflats, in saline pools, freshwater marshes, fishponds and rice-fields. The species has been documented as eating fishes, prawns and crabs (Iqbal et al
. 2008, 2009). Birds only occur inland in flooded forest around Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia, from where they disperse in the wet season, possibly to the coast (van Zalinge et al.
In Indonesia, tidal forests including mangroves are threatened by agricultural conversion and development schemes, particularly large-scale fish farms and tidal rice cultivation, logging and related disturbance; as a result, mangrove clearance has been rapid. Hunting for food and trade also exerts a significant pressure throughout its range. In 1989, 40-50 birds were shipped to zoos across South-East Asia. Persecution and disturbance at nesting colonies are thought to be the main threat in Malaysia. The same is said to be the case in South Sumatra, where local people hunt the species and take chicks and eggs for food and domestication (Iqbal et al
. 2008). In Cambodia, exploitation of waterbird eggs and chicks and snaring of adults, for food and trade, coupled with the increasing likelihood of conversion of flooded forest for agriculture, threaten the suspected Tonle Sap lake breeding colonies. Poisoning may be another significant, as yet unquantified, threat. Hybridisation with other stork spp. has been reported in the wild (Hong Chamnan in litt
. 2004 to Wetlands International 2006), for example with Painted Stork M. leucocephala
at Ang Trapeang Thmor Sarus Crane Reserve, Cambodia in 2007, as well as in captive populations, including free-flying birds (Eames 2007, Ding Li Yong in litt
. 2011, J. C. Eames in litt
. Conservation actions underway
CITES Appendix I. Colonies are located in at least five protected areas in Sumatra and one each in Java, Sulawesi and Peninsular Malaysia. At Tonle Sap lake, Cambodia, large waterbird breeding colonies are designated core areas of the Biosphere Reserve, are proposed as Ramsar Sites, and have received active monitoring and improved enforcement of regulations since 1997. In Cambodia, posters depicting the species are used in promoting public environmental awareness. The Milky Stork Breeding and Re-introduction Programme, run by a number of stakeholders, coordinates the captive breeding and release of individuals into the Kuala Selangor Nature Park, Malaysia (Malaysian Nature Society 2005). Efforts are underway to effect legislative protection of the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserves in Perak, Malaysia, and advocacy is being used as an additional tool in the species's conservation (Malaysian Nature Society 2005). Successful breeding in captivity, survival of free-flying released birds, and attempted nesting in the wild by captive-bred individuals has been achieved in Malaysia (Malaysian Nature Society 2005). Successful hatching of two chicks occurred in 2010 (DWNP 2010). Surveys of the population in Sumatra are planned for 2008 (N. Brickle in litt.
2007). Conservation actions proposed
Conduct surveys and research to locate additional colonies, monitor seasonal movements and clarify its ecological requirements. Monitor numbers and breeding success at all known important nesting colonies. Establish additional protected areas encompassing important nesting colonies and feeding areas, particularly in the Riau, Jambi and Sumatra Selatan provinces of Sumatra and Matang Mangrove Forest in Malaysia. Promote public-awareness initiatives highlighting its conservation importance.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Li Zuo Wei, D.; Siti Hawa Yatim; Howes, J.; Ilias, R. 2006. Status Overview and Recommendations for the Conservation of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea in Malaysia: Final report of the 2004/2006 Milky Stork field surveys in the Matang Mangrove Forest, Perak. Wetlands International.
Malaysian Nature Society. 2005. Report on the Milky Stork captive breeding and re-introduction programme, Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Malaysian Nature Society, Kuala Lumpur.
Li, Z.W.D., Yeap, C. A.; Kumar, K. 2007. Surveys of coastal waterbirds and wetlands in Malaysia, 2004-2006. In: Li, Z. W. D.; Ounsted, R. (ed.), The status of coastal waterbirds and wetlands in Southeast Asia: results of waterbird surveys in Malaysia (2004-2006) and Thailand and Myanmar (2006), pp. 1-40. Wetlands Internationa, Kuala Lumpur.
Iqbal, M.; Hasudungan, F. 2008. Observations of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea during 2001-2007 in South Sumatra province, Indonesia. BirdingASIA 9: 97-99.
Iqbal, M.; Ridwan, A.; Takari, F.; Mulyono, H. 2008. Rediscovery of a Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea breeding colony in South Sumatra province, Indonesia. BirdingASIA: 62-66.
Shepherd, C. R.; Giyanto. 2009. Observations of Milky Storks Mycteria cinerea in Percut, North Sumatra, Indonesia. BirdingASIA 11: 70-72.
Iqbal, M.; Takari, F.; Mulyono, H.; Rasam. 2009. A note on the breeding success of Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea in 2008, South Sumatra province, Indonesia and more on its diet. BirdingASIA 11: 73-74.
DWNP. 2010. Annual Report 2010. Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur.
van Zalinge, R., Visal, S., Phreakdey, S. and Evans, T. 2011. The status and distribution of large waterbirds in the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve, 2010 update. Wildlife Conservation Society Cambodia Program, Phnom Penh.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Davidson, P., Mahood, S., Martin, R, Peet, N., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J., Tobias, J.
Brickle, N., Chamnan, H., Chin Aik, Y., Eames, J., Evans, T., Iqbal, M., Li, Z., Yong, D.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Mycteria cinerea. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/05/2013.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
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Additional resources for this species