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Keywords:

  • Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus;
  • black-necked stork;
  • foraging;
  • India;
  • feeding success;
  • foraging attempts

Foraging behaviour of the black-necked stork (BNS) Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus was studied in 1996 and 1997 in Dudwa National Park (DNP), Uttar Pradesh, India. The storks were observed using tactile and visual techniques to catch fish. Of the 929 fish seen caught in 2 years, 894 (96%) were caught by a tactile mode of feeding and the remaining 35 (4%) by a visual mode of feeding. The rate of foraging attempts by BNS fluctuates with that of season in DNP and coincides with prey abundance. Immediately after the monsoon when the water level was high, BNS had to search for prey more often, as the prey became widespread. Whereas in summer when the water level decreased, the concentration of the fish was higher, which helps BNS to catch fish in quick succession. Prey behaviour and the condition of the wetland determined the selection of the tactile foraging technique among the BNS in DNP. The black-necked storks were more successful in the early hours of the day (06:00–10:00) and they were generally more successful or preferred to feed on medium-sized fish (i.e. 5–10 cm) in DNP. Prey profitability was highest for larger size fish and decreased as the prey size decreased. Principal component analysis showed that prey size, handling time of each prey, the month and water depth determined foraging success in 1996 and 1997.