Thursday, August 5, 2010

Asian Openbill

An Asian Openbill photographed in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
An Asian Openbill photographed in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

According to "Birds of Sri Lanka" the Asian Openbill is the commonest widespread stork throughout the lowlands. It can often be seen in marshes, tanks (man made lakes) and paddy fields. The image above was captured on the banks of the Tissa wewa in Anuradhapura.  More info after the jump.

The gap in the birds mandibles, which give rise to its name, are not obvious to the naked eye unless the bird is side on (as in the image above). Although the bird is almost always found in small flocks, I only saw this single Openbill when I photographed it. The adult Openbill in breeding plumage (black and pure white) bears quite a resemblance to the White Stork, but its black tail and brownish-black bill can be used to identify it. Interestingly the White Stork and the Asian Openbill have identical underwing patterns. Non breeding adults and juveniles are grey in colour.

The Asian Openbill is a soaring bird which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained flight. Like most Storks, it flies with its neck outstretched. it is said to feed on frogs, large insects and molluscs.  Its range extends through South and Southeast Asia.

I managed to capture a number of images of the bird in flight but unfortunately they were taken at midday and the sky was over exposed. There's always next time I guess.

These images were captured with a Canon 7D and the Canon 100-400mm lens. 

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