Milky stork

The creamy colored stork in need of conservation

DChai21

An increasingly rare wading bird found in Southeast Asia, with a dwindling presence in the Malay Peninsula, parts of Indonesia, and Cambodia. This stork is often compared to the Painted Stork for its similar size and habitat preferences but can be distinguished by its striking appearance and more threatened status.

Adorned primarily in white, the Milky Stork’s plumage contrasts beautifully with its dark red face and legs, and during the breeding season, its plumage takes on a creamy-yellow hue. The bill, of a gentle pinkish-orange coloration, is robust and slightly down-curved, perfect for foraging in its wetland habitat. In flight, the Milky Stork is majestic, displaying extensive black flight feathers and tail that are usually hidden at rest.

Habitats of the Milky Stork include mangrove forests, swamps, and various coastal lowland areas, which are essential for their survival, providing both food and nesting sites. They feed mainly on fish, amphibians, and small reptiles, using their sensitive bills to locate prey in the muddy bottoms of shallow waters.

The Milky Stork breeds colonially, often in the same nesting sites year after year if undisturbed. They typically choose tall mangroves for their roosts and nests, which are constructed from sticks and vegetation. Clutch sizes vary from one to four eggs, and both parents share the responsibilities of incubation and chick rearing.

Unfortunately, the Milky Stork’s population is declining due to a combination of factors. Habitat destruction, particularly the loss of mangroves and other wetlands to aquaculture and agricultural expansion, is a significant threat. Pollution from heavy metals and hazardous chemicals contaminates their food supply and breeding grounds. Additionally, poaching for the exotic pet trade, egg collection, and predation by invasive species further exacerbate their plight. Another challenge they face is the lack of mature trees for nesting due to deforestation.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Cambodia
100–150
Official estimate
EN
2016
Indonesia
1,600
Official estimate
EN
2016
Sumatra
Indonesia
<500
Official estimate
EN
2016
Java
Malaysia
<10
Official estimate
EN
2016
Singapore
2016
Seasonality Uncertain
Thailand
0
Official estimate
EX
2016
Extinct locally, Vagrant
Vietnam
0
Official estimate
EX
2016
Extinct locally, Vagrant

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Flock

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No