• The milky stork (Mycteria cinerea) is a large, endangered waterbird found in Southeast Asia. While most of the remaining population is found in Indonesia, it also occurs in Cambodia and Malaysia. Researchers believe the species is now most likely extinct in Thailand and Vietnam. Milky storks are primarily coastal birds but can be found slightly inland in marshes, ponds, and rice fields. When breeding, milky storks form large groups called colonies that contain from 10 up to several hundred pairs of birds.

    Like many species, milky storks face intense pressure from human activities. Mangrove forests where they nest are heavily logged. Stork habitat is also converted for agricultural uses, including tidal rice fields and commercial fish farms. Though protected through most of its range, and despite occurring in several protected national parks, adults, young, and eggs are still hunted for food and domestic trade. Milky storks also face another challenge, hybridization. These storks can hybridize by mating with closely related species, which makes recovering the original species difficult.

    The wild milky stork population has declined significantly from the 1980s, and as of 2017 consists of around 2,200 individuals. At the same time, capture and trade have resulted in a growing captive population. Several groups are working to reintroduce the milky stork from captive-breeding programs. Though success has been limited so far, captive populations may provide an avenue for recovery in the wild for this species.

    1. What challenges do milky storks face?

      Hybridization, milky storks can hybridize by mating with closely related species, which makes recovering the original species difficult.

    2. Hybridization, milky storks can hybridize by mating with closely related species, which makes recovering the original species difficult.

      Hybridization, milky storks can hybridize by mating with closely related species, which makes recovering the original species difficult.

    3. How many milky stork pairs breed together in a colony?

      From 10 up to several hundred milky stork pairs breed together in a colony.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    captive-breeding program Noun

    plans, research, and work done by an organization, such as a zoo, to control reproduction of rare species in that organization's facilities (not in the wild).

    coast Noun

    edge of land along the sea or other large body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: coast
    colony Noun

    group of one species of organism living close together.

    hybridize Verb

    to produce or influence the production of an organism from organisms of different breeds, varieties, species, or genera.

    mangrove Noun

    type of tree or shrub with long, thick roots that grows in salty water.

    marsh Noun

    wetland area usually covered by a shallow layer of seawater or freshwater.

    Encyclopedic Entry: marsh
    waterbird Noun

    bird which lives near a freshwater or marine ecosystem, including wading birds, diving birds, and waterfowl.