“While on the way back to Singapore from Bukit Tinggi, at the entrance of Zoo Negara, Kuala Lumpur, we came across Milky (Mycteria cinerea) and Painted Storks (Mycteria leucocephala) (left), all perched on the lamp posts.
“Some of the lamp posts had up to three birds and some only single birds. I believe some of these birds were released by the Malaysians, and some of them could have flown up from Singapore, we will never know.
“However it was quite a sight having these big birds right in the heart of town, along a very busy thoroughfare.”
Report by K C Tsang
Picture by Willi Kwek
Yong Ding Li has this to add: “Interestingly all the painted and milky storks seen in Singapore and South Johor are most probably free-ranging birds from the Singapore Zoo (I have a newspaper cutting of these birds in Johor from a New Straits Times in the late 1990s). There is a second population of these free ranging birds in KL’s Zoo Negara but i dont think those came this far south. As far as milky storks are concerned at least, we cannot say with any certainty that they are of wild origin as there are free-ranging flocks at our Zoo. In Peninsular Malaysia, the only true wild Milky Stork is a declining flock of now less than 10 birds at the Matang Larut Mangrove Forest at Perak near Port Weld. The nearest colony to Singapore is either this or another colony on the east Sumatra coast in Jambi/Riau (but I doubt these wander over since there is extensive mudflat to forage on the Sumatra east coast)”
These Painted and Milky Storks outside Zoo Negara are part of their own free-flying population. These have been wandering around the city since, at least the 1990s.
The only wild population of Milky Storks left in Peninsula Malaysia is up at Kuala Gula in Perak, as Ding Li mentions. However, in the late 1980s, the Interwader researchers found a 2 remnant birds near Sungei Benut Estuary, probably part of a former unknown colony.
There has also been reintroductions of the species at Kuala Selangor.