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 Ciconia episcopus

This taxon is Not Recognised as a species by BirdLife International.

Taxonomic source(s)
Dowsett, R. J.; Forbes-Watson, A. D. 1993. Checklist of birds of the Afrotropical and Malagasy regions. Tauraco Press, Li
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Taxonomic note
Ciconia episcopus and C. microscelis (del Hoyo and Collar 2014) were previously lumped as C. episcopus following Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993).

Behaviour This species is predominantly sedentary, although it may make migratory north-south movements in Africa (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005). In India the species tends to breed during the rains (Hancock et al. 1992) (between July and September in the south and December to March in the north), whereas in Africa it mainly breeds during the dry season (Hancock et al. 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1992) (apart from the population in northern Sudan which breeds during the rains) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species breeds in solitary pairs, although these pairs may nest close together in East Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and loose colonies of up to 4-5 nests are occasionally reported (Hancock et al. 1992). When not breeding the species is normally seen solitarily or in pairs, rarely in small flocks (Brown et al. 1982), although it may collect in flocks of several hundred (del Hoyo et al. 1992) on migration (Brown et al. 1982). Groups of 20-40 individuals may also gather in communal nightly roosts in trees or on sandbanks (Hockey et al. 2005), pairs often using the same tree night after night (Brown et al. 1982, Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat The species shows a preference for natural wetland habitats (Sundar 2006) in savanna and grassland, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, water-holes, lagoons, dams, flood plains, marshes, and freshwater and peat swamp forests (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), although it will also use artificial habitats such as rice paddy-fields, flooded pastures, cultivated fields (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), golf courses, firebreaks and roads in tree and sugar-cane plantations (particularly when they are flooded) (Hockey et al. 2005). It generally avoids forests, but is occasionally found in light woodland or forest clearings (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It also frequents coastal mudflats or coral reefs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), mangrove swamps and estuaries (Hockey et al. 2005), and can be found up to 1,400 m in Sulawesi, 1,250 m in Nepal (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and up to 3,000 m in East Africa (Hancock et al. 1992). Diet The species is predominantly carnivorous, its diet consisting of fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, large insects and larvae (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. termite alates and army worms Spodoptera exempta) (Hockey et al. 2005), crabs, molluscs and marine invertebrates (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a large stick platform built 10-30 m (and sometimes up to 50 m) above the ground or over water, on a fork of a horizontal branch in a tall tree (Brown et al. 1982, Hancock et al. 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005).

The main threat to this species in South East Asia is severe habitat fragmentation (Luthin 1987, del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species has also suffered population reductions as a result of habitat destruction and shooting (Hancock et al. 1992).

Brown, L. H.; Urban, E. K.; Newman, K. 1982. The birds of Africa vol I. Academic Press, London.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

Hancock, J. A.; Kushlan, J. A.; Kahl, M. P. 1992. Storks, ibises and spoonbills of the world. Academic Press, London.

Hockey, P. A. R.; Dean, W. R. J.; Ryan, P. G. 2005. Roberts birds of southern Africa. Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa.

Luthin, C. S. 1987. Status and conservation priorities for the world's stork species. Colonial Waterbirds 10: 181-202.

Sundar, K. S. G. 2006. Flock size, density and habitat selection of four large waterbirds species in an agricultural landscape in Uttar Pradesh, India: implications for management. Waterbirds 29(3): 365-374.

Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Ciconia episcopus. Downloaded from on 07/07/2015. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 07/07/2015.

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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To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Woolly-necked stork (Ciconia episcopus) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Not Recognised
Family Ciconiidae (Storks)
Species name author (Boddaert, 1783)