Bird in the City: Rescued, Aided & Freed

 

MUMBAI: Long bright yellow beaks, orange-coloured head, black and white at the body and pink tertial feathers. It is these tertial feathers that the Painted Stork (Mycteria leucocephala) derives its name from.

This large bird of the Stork family is mainly found in the wetlands of the Indian subcontinent and parts of South-east Asia. The Painted Stork feeds on small fishes, mostly found in freshwater These birds hunt down their prey in a very peculiar manner, holding their long beaks open as they forage in the shallow waters of river and streams, using their bills to sense movement and thus find their prey.

Also known as the 'Indian wood stork' or 'rosy wood ibis', this colonially nesting species' mating season occurs in the latter half of the rainy season. The female painted stork lays between 2-5 eggs, which are incubated for about a month by both the parents in turn. This bird develops adult plumage when it's about 3 years old, and begins breeding a year after attaining adulthood.

The painted stork is considered to be abundantly found in Asia, but is increasingly threatened by hunting, habitat destruction and pollution, that has been gradually impeding its life in its natural habitat. For, its meat is considered a delicacy and its nesting trees are cut down for the pupose of fuel and agriculture. These activities have led the painted stork, which is not a migratory bird, to migrate from its actual habitat in the greens into an urban environment for feeding and breeding. It is this very reason that these birds are seen around water bodies in the inlands of this coastal city of Mumbai. PAWS, an organisation that looks out for all species that need care and attention rescued a painted stork from Vehele village on Monday (February 4), along the Ulhas riverbed in Dombivli, Thane.

The PAWS team rescued the Painted Stork from Vehele village near the Ulhas river bank in Dombivali area

It was then provided first aid, given a thorough check-up and even fed with small fish

The huge wading bird was then freed into its habitat near the Ulhas river, at a spot where there is no human activity

 

The stork, when freed, ran towards the water body and soared into the sky

 

After a while up in the air, the stork plunged into the water and started hunting for its prey

 

The Painted Stork swallowing its prey

 

The rescued stork settling back down in its habitat

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