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Kidadl Team

SEPTEMBER 14, 2021

15 Amaze-wing Facts About The Greater Adjutant For Kids

Greater adjutant facts are all about the Endangered species found in Assam, India.

Are you interested in learning about diffrent different species of birds living in the world? Then you will love learning about the unique large bird, the greater adjutant stork. Endemic to Asia, the greater adjutant stork is found in India and Cambodia. With piercing blue eyes and a steady gait, the greater Aadjutant stork was often seen perched on rooftops in the city of Calcutta, India. Sporting dark wings, bald head and neck pouch, this species of the stork family occupies shallow wetlands and other open habitats. The greater adjutant stork, like marabou stork, nest in the center of tall trees in local villages.

Due to the declining habitat range, only three breeding populations of this bird species remain, located in India and Cambodia. Because this is an Endangered species with few breeding populations, conservation is a top priority. The Hargila Army in Assam, India is striving to save the rare adjutant storks by preserving their nesting sites. The Marabou stork in Africa is a close relative of the greater adjutant stork.

If you'd like to read more about other bird families, do checkout greater sage-grouse and greater flamingo.

Greater Adjutant Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a greater adjutant?

Greater adjutants are birds that belong to the stork family, Ciconiidae. Birds of this species have vulture-like flying and hunting abilities.

What class of animal does a greater adjutant belong to?

The greater adjutant is a bird belonging to the Aves class. Storks of this species are members of the order Ciconiiformes and Phylum Chordata. Belonging to the genus Leptoptilos, the scientific name of the bird living in India and Cambodia is Leptoptilos dubius.

How many greater adjutants are there in the world?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN, the population trend of this bird is decreasing further. The International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN has quantified the number of greater adjutants living in the world as 800-1200 individuals. Various human activities like farming, hunting, and pollution have resulted in this poor population condition of the species.

Where does the greater adjutant live?

Greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius) is endemic to Asia. It is found in various states of India. Often nesting in trees and backyards of local houses, these birds were once common in many Indian cities. West Bengal, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar are home to these adjutants. More than 50% of the greater adjutant population breeds in the Brahmaputra Valley of Assam. They are also known to inhabit Cambodia. Apart from Cambodia and India, it can be found in certain other parts of Asia. For example, they are found in Indochina, and Bangladesh, but in fewer numbers.

What is a greater adjutant's habitat?

Wetlands like marshes, swamps, and lakes, surrounded by trees are ideal nesting sites for the greater adjutants. To allow easy take-off and landing, adjutant storks nest on large trees in tropical areas. They are mostly found in lowlands. These adjutants prefer living in open habitat with nearby water bodies.

Who do greater adjutant stork live with?

The greater adjutants can live in small colonies, sometimes near human settlements but they are mostly seen living a solitary life. It is seen foraging alone or in small flocks.

How long does a greater adjutant live?

The great adjutant stork has a high life expectancy. The oldest greater adjutant stork has a lifespan of up to 43 years.

How do they reproduce?

The dry season from October to June marks the breeding season for this species. Male of the species mark their territory on nesting trees and offer fresh sticks to win over the female storks. Once they have paired, the male holds his bill over her neck as a sign of their bond.

The female adjutant lays two to four white eggs, and each egg takes up to 35 days to hatch. Adult adjutants spread their wings to shade the newly hatched bird. Fed at the nests for five months, the young birds or chicks walk and fly around the colony at this age. Once the breeding season is over, the storks in India return to the wild and live their nest.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the greater adjutant, as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN in their Red List of Threatened species, is Endangered. They have been facing the threat of habitat loss over the years. As a huge number of their population is found near human settlements like lakes, open forests, and near garbage dumps, it faces the direct threat of hunting, farming, pollution, harvesting, and other human activities. There are about 800-1200 mature individuals of this species alive as states by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN. No recovery plans are in action as of now but it is needed soon to save the population of these birds.

Greater Adjutant Fun Facts

What do greater adjutants look like?

A greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) is a huge bird. You can spot a bird of this species by an orange pouch that hangs by the neck of the bird. It is mostly dark brown or grayish in color and has white underparts. However, the head and the neck have a reddish coloration. It has a bare head and neck that helps these scavengers remain clean when scouring garbage dumps. They have long legs and a long yellow bill. The range of wingspan is quite large as well.

The greater adjutant has dark wings and an orange-yellow pouch around its neck.

How cute are they?

Standing tall with a bare head and neck and a pouch of orange on the neck, these birds are not typically attractive. However, neighboring citizens embrace and cherish greater adjutants for their role in the ecosystem.

How do they communicate?

Greater adjutants interact with each other through body movements and specific behaviors. Male adjutants attract mates by offering fresh twigs and holding their beaks near the female. During the breeding season, pairs also perform a head-bobbing ritual to develop their bond. To protect its nest and territory, the male bird of the species makes loud clattering noises with its bill. This keeps other male birds away. They can be heard making mooing and roaring sounds to warn each other in case of potential threats.

How big is a greater adjutant?

The greater adjutant found in Asia is a huge species of stork. It has a height of about 4.7-4.9 ft (1.4-1.5 m). Apart from the great height, it is also has a body length of 3.9-5 ft (1.1-1.5 m). To add to that, they have a huge wingspan. They are almost the same size as a marbauo stork. However, compared to an average swan, they are larger in size.

How fast can a greater adjutant fly?

The greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius), has a huge wingspan range and can fly long distances looking for food. It flies alongside the vultures often.

How much does a greater adjutant weigh?

The greater adjutant storks weigh about 18 lb (8.1 kg) on average. It is a heavy species of bird and is way bulkier than a wood stork.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no specific name for a male or female greater adjutant. They are simply referred to as a male greater adjutant and a female greater adjutant.

What would you call a baby greater adjutant?

Baby storks are called chicks. So young or baby greater adjutants will be referred to as the same.

What do they eat?

Greater adjutant storks are wild birds that follow a carnivorous diet. When it comes to food, they are quite opportunists and prey on almost everything they can. Large insects and small reptiles like frogs are a part of their diet. Other than that, species of other birds also become food to them. Taking advantage of their flying abilities, they prey on species like bats. Fishes and crustaceans become a huge part of their diet as they live near water bodies. Moreover, as scavengers of the bird world, they eat carrion from garbage dumps too.

Are they dangerous?

Once considered a nuisance, the greater adjutant stork is not one of the dangerous birds of the world. As they prey on a number of species, they pose a threat to those species, but apart from that, they cannot be considered dangerous to humans.

Would they make a good pet?

While the adjutant stork, might not be an ideal pet, it plays a key role in the food chain. It rids city surroundings of harmful snakes and small wild animals. These birds live among humans and are safeguarded by locals.

Did you know...

Of the two breeding populations in India, the majority are found in Assam. Traditionally named Hargilas, meaning 'bone-swallowers', the species originally nested in large numbers in multiple Indian cities.

The Hargila Army, a team of local women in India rallied to protect this Endangered species. To ensure the conservation of the adjutant stork in Assam, they worked to preserve the local nesting trees of this bird. The Hargila women treated injured storks at the zoo and educated others about its conservation. With help from the local government, Hargila women rescued and rehabilitated baby storks that fell from nest trees. With their conservation efforts, the Hargila army contributed to the increase of local nests in Assam.

What were the two reasons that led to the decline of the greater adjutant? 

Villagers and locals initially disliked the greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) due to their unhygienic lifestyle and foul smell. Coupled with the bird's bald head and awkward appearance, it was long known as the 'prodigy of ugliness'.

Frequently spotted near garbage dumps, the storks scavenge for food and carrion and drag it back to their nests for consumption. Rotten remains from their feast and own droppings spoiled the area around privately owned trees where they nested. To keep these storks from polluting their backyard, landowners would cut down these trees. This loss of habitat and trees for nests has stunted the breeding for this bird species.

How are vultures and adjutant similar?

The adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius) feeds on carrion (animal carcasses), similar to vultures. The adjutant and vulture also hunt for prey such large insects, fish and rodents. Both soar high in the sky and travel far in search of food. In Assam, the greater adjutant stork is often spotted feeding alongside the vultures, as both are scavengers.

However, unlike vultures, the greater adjutant is a friendly species and usually resides in nest trees near a human population. Vultures are native to Europe, Africa, America as well as Asia, whereas adjutant populations are found only in Asia.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these Senegal parrot facts and Cooper's hawk facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable lovebird coloring pages.

Second image by Dr. Raju Kasambe.

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