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Foraging behaviour and prey size of the painted stork


Abdul J. Urfi, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Delhi, Delhi 110007, India.


The foraging behaviour of painted stork Mycteria leucocephala was studied during 2004–2006 at 14 different sites in the Delhi region, India. Observations were recorded on 131 individuals, including 29 juvenile birds using a video camera. Recordings were also made at the nesting colony in Delhi zoo to study the prey sizes regurgitated to nestlings. The results confirm that the painted stork is a tactile forager and exclusively piscivorous. Foraging group size ranged from 1 to 18 individuals. Per 5 min foot stirring rates in the vegetated habitats were significantly higher than in non-vegetated habitats. The attempt rate and feeding rate in the breeding season were significantly higher than that in the non-breeding season. Prey sizes taken in the breeding season were significantly smaller than those taken in the non-breeding season. About 80% fish fed to the chicks were smaller than 10 cm. Young chicks were offered smaller prey compared with older chicks. The variations in foraging parameters are discussed in relation to habitats and their conservation in the Delhi region.