Milky Stork sunning

on 7th September 2010

Chris Lee’s a.k.a. chrisle023 image of a Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea) was photographed in November 2009 at Singapore’s Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve. The status of these storks are debateable – either vagrant or escapee, as they were introduced by the Mandai Zoo as free-flying birds since 1987, now breeding freely there.

The Milky Stork is here taking a classic delta-wing posture. Note that the dull pinkish legs and feet are almost white, coated with the bird’s droppings. This is done intentionally in order to lose heat through evaporation of the faecal fluids. Technically known as urohidrosis, this is commonly seen in storks (Ciconiidae) and New World vultures (Cathartidae).

Sunning is usually done in early morning or late afternoon. The wings may be spread fully in an open-wing frontal posture or as shown here, in a delta-wing posture. Such postures may also be adopted for wing-drying, in which case the bird faces the wind whether the sun is out or not. For cooling purposes the bird faces away from the sun with the upper back feathers erected. At the same time the bird will be panting.

This post is a cooperative effort between and BESG to bring the study of bird behaviour through photography to a wider audience.

Simmons, K. E. L., 1986. The sunning behaviour of birds: A guide for ornithologists. Bristol Ornithological Club, Bristol. 119pp.

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

3 Responses

  1. Nice write up on the ecology of this bird’s sunning behavior! Thanks for sharing, I learned so much from you as a nature lover 🙂

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