The painted stork is the tallest bird that can be seen at the lake. They are non-residents, but frequent visitors to the lake. Unlike the open-bill storks, the painted storks are not found here in big numbers, but given their large size, they can be fairly easy to spot. Their distinctive black and white coat with pink accents makes it easy to recognize them even from afar.
The adult storks have a long orange bill and a wide wrinkled forehead devoid of any feathers, that sorta resembles a receding hairline :)
The difference between adult painted storks and their juveniles is quite remarkable. They almost look like two entirely different species. The feathers of the younger birds are brown and white and lack the pink accents. Also, just like their human counterparts, the juveniles sport a full head of dark hair and have no wrinkles on their face.
The home range of the painted stork falls mainly across the central and southern states of India and some small pockets of China, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Maybe we should start calling it the Indian stork then. So, out of curiosity, I Googled "Indian stork" and guess what I got as the top result?... It's not an official name of course, but if Google thinks so, its good enough :)
These birds are very graceful in flight and can cover long distances seemingly effortlessly. When in the air they stretch their entire body while gently flapping their wings, which is in stark contrast to the herons and egrets that curl up their necks close to the body when flying.
Here shown below is a painted stork carefully wading through the shallow pools to find some prey.
They spend most of their time near the lakeshore in shallow water scanning for fish and frogs by probing the waters with an open bill. A soon as some movement is detected in the water, the bill clamps shut and seals the fate of the unfortunate creature that tried to squeeze through.
These birds are quite reclusive and don't hang around on the ground when they are not actively feeding. One can usually find these storks perched high up on trees, far away from all the activity below.
Well, I hope this blog post gave you a little glimpse into the life of this gentle bird. I was brooding on this post for over a month now, and finally this week I was able to get some more shots to round off the post. I'll close with one final shot of the stork gathering some nesting material.