Family Storks (Ciconiidae)


Asian Woollyneck (Ciconia episcopus)


French: Cigogne épiscopale German: Asien-Wollhalsstorch Spanish: Cigüeña lanuda asiática
Other common names: Woolly-necked Stork (when lumped with C. microscelis)

Ardea episcopus


, 1783,

Coromandel Coast, India


Formerly placed in monospecific genus Dissoura. Hitherto treated as conspecific with C. microscelis but differs in having rear edge of black cap sharply demarcated from the white neck vs streaked white (2); facial skin naked and dull grey vs  feathered blackish with white streaks at rear edge (3); tail shorter (191±9.05 vs 216±13.2, score 2); also tends to have paler, pinker legs. In past sometimes lumped with C. stormi on basis of specimens with faded colours, before great distinctiveness of latter recognized. Validity of race neglecta disputed; some doubt as to geographical limits of races in SE Asia. Two subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. e. episcopus (Boddaert, 1783) – N Pakistan (Punjab)#R#R, and India E to Indochina and N Malay Peninsula; Philippines.
  • C. e. neglecta (Finsch, 1904) – S Sumatra#R, Java and Wallacea.
  • Descriptive notes

    86–95 cm; 1590–2790 g. Fairly small, black-and-white stork with grey bill. Adult has black cap and glossy black wings and body, contrasting with all-white... read more


    Generally silent. Bill-clattering reported at the nest.


    Usually in or by wetlands such as rivers, lakes, floodplains, marshes, jheels, paddyfields, drying... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, large insects, crabs, reptiles, molluscs, marine invertebrates; fibres of palm nut also found in some... read more


    In India it tends to breed during the rains;  between Jul and Sept in S and Dec–Mar in N. Nests are in trees, typically 20... read more


    Mainly resident. Only local movements occur in India but non-breeding flocks of up to 80 may... read more

    Status and conservation

    VULNERABLE. The best available estimates of the global population according to Wetlands International are imprecise but put race neglecta at up to 10,000 birds and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Elliott, A., Garcia, E.F.J., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Asian Woollyneck (Ciconia episcopus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 26 February 2020).