(2209) Ciconia nigra.
The Black Stork.
Ardea nigra Linn., Syst. Nat, 10th ed., i, p. 142 (1758) (N. Europe). Ciconia nigra. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 369.
Vernacular names. Surmal (Hind.).
Description. Lower breast, abdomen, flanks and under tail-coverts white; remainder of plumage black, highly glossed with varying colours ; the upper parts with purple, bronze and green, the neck almost entirely brilliant green, the back and mantle nearly all purple and deep bronze, the breast mixed green and purple.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown or black; bill red, paler at the tip ; bare skin of face deep red; legs and feet coral scarlet-red.
Measurements. Wing 520 to 605 mm.; tail 190 to 240 mm.; tarsus about 180 to 200 mm.; culmen 160 to 190 mm.
Young birds. Head, neck and upper breast dark brown, each feather tipped paler; mantle brownish-black with very little gloss.
Distribution. Breeding in Germany, Austria and Eastern Europe to North Central Asia, wintering in Africa, India and China. It has not occurred in Ceylon or in India South of the Deccan. In the East it is a regular, though not common, visitor to Assam.
Nidification. The Black Stork breeds in April and May, making a stick nest in cliff faces or on trees, never on buildings nor on trees in or close to habitations. The nest is well lined with . moss, wool or soft rubbish of any kind and is used for many years in succession if the birds are not harried. The eggs are small replicas of those of the White Stork. One hundred eggs (84 Jourdain) average 65.3 x 48.7 mm.: maxima 74.3 x 47.5 and 69.4 x 51.7 mm.; minima 60.3 x 45.2 mm.
Habits. Very similar to those of Ciconia ciconia, but it is a bird of open plains away from the vicinity of towns and villages. It is an omnivorous feeder like most Storks and will eat almost any living thing which comes within its ken. It occurs in India in larger flocks than the preceding bird and seems to prefer marshes and wet ground to dry plains or cultivation.