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Painted Storks are large wading birds who nest in colonies with other storks, ibises, spoonbills, cormorants, herons and so on. There many of them at Vedanthangal in Kancheepuram, sitting on top of trees across the lake. By the way, it never fails to amaze me how birds, especially the huge ones perch so nonchalantly on the top of trees, on branches you feel are too flimsy to hold their weight. A heavy yellow beak which has a down-curved tip, a bare head orange or reddish in color (adults), long tertials (third row of flight feathers) tipped in bright pink (which gives it its name), distinctive black breast band with white scaly markings, are some of the distinguishing features of the bird. Did you know that though their legs are yellowish to red, they often appear white due their habit of defecating on their legs especially when at rest? I had to go back and check the pictures I took when I read that bit of info.

Many of the birds at the sanctuary could be seen sitting motionless on nests. Others were busy tending to the nests, making repairs and alterations, I guess. But what caught our attention was this particular fellow who was so involved in collecting building material for nest making. When his ( I am assuming it is a he because I read, the male collects nesting material and the female builds) beak was full, he spread his huge wings and took off for the tree where ‘she’ was waiting. He gently put them all down for her to choose and use in all her creative wisdom, and then flew back to collect some more. He made many such trips even as we watched. At one point he caught hold of the end of a creeper and started pulling, pulling… with all his strength. But the vine held fast, and wouldn’t let go. Finally, he managed to get a tiny piece, but went back to collecting leaves and grass. Later he was seen picking weeds too from the water in the lake.

Here is the story in a slide show:

From the watch tower at Vedanthangal, my friends and I saw three Painted Storks sitting motionless on a treetop. We joked that they were the ‘Three Wise Men/Women’ (Well, we should actually have said, ‘Three Wise Birds’!) They were not too close enough for us to notice that they were actually standing guard over their newly hatched chicks. Only when I reached back home and enlarged the pictures did I see the chicks (though a little blurred) at the feet of their parents. Did you know that while young storks are able to call loudly, that by 18 months they become practically voiceless? It seems, ‘the only sounds they produce are weak moans or bill clattering at the nest.’ (Source Wiki) But there is one thing, the flapping sounds their wings make when they rise and also descend which is really loud and could be heard right across the lake. Just remembering it all wants me to go back and relive the experience.

Note: Anyone who did not get what the picture on top alludes to, read this



Some O posts from A to Z Challenge worth checking:


©Shail Mohan 2014