Khng Eu Meng visited the Bundala National Park in Sri Lanka recently where he encountered some Painted Storks (Mycteria leucocephala) foraging in shallow water there. What was interesting was that the storks were scooping out from the water chunks of filamentous algae, to awkwardly manipulate them into their mouth for swallowing. Aware that storks eat fish and crustaceans mainly, Eu Meng instinctively knew that there was something unusual in what he observed and took the above photograph.
Storks of the genus Mycteria forage mostly in the shallow waters of lakes, marshes, riverbanks, paddyfields and sometimes even along coastal shores. They are exclusively carnivorous, eating mostly fish and occasionally frogs, reptiles, crustaceans and insects. According to Elliott (1992), plant matter may be ingested by accident, especially when it gets entangled with the prey. But there is no report that they regularly take plants. This feeding behaviour is obviously a new record for the Painted Stork.
Khng Eu Meng
Elliott, A., 1992. Family Ciconiidae (Storks). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds.), Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 436-465.