2213. Leptoptilos javanicus

(2213) Leptoptilos javanicus.

The Smaller Adjutant.

Ciconia javanica Horsf., Trans. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 188 (1821) (Java). Leptoptilus javanicus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 374.

Vernacular names. Chinjara, Chandana, Chandiari, Bang-gor, Chota garur (Hind.); Madan-chur, Modun-tiki (Beng.); Tokla-moora (Assam); Bor-tokola (Naogang, Assam); Dodal-konga, Dodal-gatti-gadu (Tel.); Mana (Ceylon); Don-mi-gwet (Burma).

Description. - Breeding plumage. Head and neck nearly naked, but with the scattered brown feathers thicker everywhere than in the preceding bird and quite close and feathery on the nape; upper plumage, wings and tail black, glossed with green, closely barred and with a copper spot on the larger secondary coverts near their tips; longest scapulars and innermost secondaries with broad white margins; under wing-coverts black; remainder of lower parts white, the under tail-coverts longer and more fluffy than in the Common Adjutant.

Colours of soft parts. Iris white; bill dull yellow, the tip whitish and base tinged red in the breeding-season ; bare skin of crown greenish-brown; face and neck yellow tinged with brick-red in the breeding-season; legs and feet greenish-brown to almost black.

Measurements. Wing 580 to 660 mm.; tail 230 to 253 mm.; tarsus 228 to 268 mm.; culmen 260 to 305 mm.

In non-breeding plumage there are no copper spots on the coverts.

Young birds have more feathering on the naked parts and less gloss on the black upper plumage.

Distribution. Ceylon, Travancore and Malabar, Eastern India to Bengal, Assam and all Burma. Thence it is found East to Western China and South through the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Java and Borneo. In Western India it does not occur but Inglis discovered a colony in the Duars.

Nidification. This Adjutant breeds in Ceylon and Travancore from February to May and in North-East India and Burma from November to January. In Pegu it has been found breeding on rocky crags in company with the Greater Adjutant but, as a rule, it breeds in small colonies on trees, sometimes several nests on one tree. The nests are like those of the preceding bird and are used year after year for an immense period of time. A colony discovered by H. A. Hole in Sylhet in 1885 had been known to the hill tribes for as long as they had any traditions. When discovered it had fifteen nests and to-day, in 1929, it still has exactly the same number. When first seen it was in dense virgin forest; now it is surrounded by tea and cultivation but the birds still breed there. The eggs number three or four and the average size of fifty is 76.4 x 55.3 mm.: maxima 86.2 X 58.0 and 75.8 x 62.0 mm.; minima 58.8 x 49.0 mm. If the birds see anyone climbing the trees on which their nests are, they deliberately put their bills through each egg before taking to flight.

Habits. Except that this bird is not nearly so common and does not haunt civilization, its habits are just the same as that of the Common Adjutant. It has the same grunting note, coming from the pit of the stomach, whilst the young birds grunt and hiss loudly when disturbed. The Lesser Adjutant is not a scavenger but will eat any living thing, including chickens, not too big to swallow. Reptiles probably form its staple diet and it hunts marshes and lakes for mud-fish, mollusca, freshwater crabs etc.

The Fauna Of British India, Including Ceylon And Burma-birds(second Edition)
Baker, EC S (1922–1930) The fauna of British India, including Ceylon and Burma. Second edition. vol.6 1929.
Title in Book: 
2213. Leptoptilos javanicus
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
Page No: 
Common name: 
Smaller Adjutant
Lesser Adjutant
Leptoptilos javanicus
Vol. 6

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