Embracing the Asian Openbill: A Marvel of the Bird Sanctuary

The world of avian species is a mesmerizing one, with countless fascinating birds inhabiting every corner of our planet. One such remarkable bird found in the bird sanctuary of India and Southeast Asia is the Asian Openbill (Anastomus oscitans). This large wading bird, belonging to the stork family Ciconiidae, has a distinctive physical trait—an intriguing gap between the upper and lower mandible of its beak that, interestingly, aids in its diet primarily comprised of snails.

Serial NumberCharacteristicsDescription
1Common nameAsian Openbill
2Scientific nameAnastomus oscitans
3ColourGreyish or White with Glossy Black Wings
4Average length81 cm
5Average height68 cm
6Type of birdWading bird
7Found in India in statesPredominantly in Eastern and Northeastern States
8HabitatInland Wetlands, Agricultural Landscapes
9IUCN StatusNot Assessed

Features of the Asian Openbill


Spanning about 81 cm long, the Asian Openbill is a medium-sized bird. Their distinctive silhouette, especially noticeable during flight, primarily owes to their broad wings. This stork’s size and structure enable it to soar in the air, relying on hot air thermals for sustained flight. A sight that could captivate any bird lover, these storks usually fly in flocks, though sighting a single bird isn’t uncommon.


The height of the Asian Openbill, measuring approximately 68 cm, contributes to its unique profile. Its height is proportionate to its body size, providing the bird with the necessary balance and agility it needs while wading in shallow water or marshy ground. It also aids in their ground foraging activities, an attribute that any avid bird watcher would appreciate.

Running Speed

The Asian Openbill isn’t a renowned runner due to its preference for flying or wading. However, when needed, it can move with a slow and steady gait on the ground, especially when foraging for food. It’s a spectacle to watch these birds roam around in a bird sanctuary or natural habitat, their movements exuding a sense of calm.


Asian Openbills sport a predominantly greyish (non-breeding season) or white (breeding season) plumage, with glossy black wings and tail that often sheen green or purple. Their short legs range from pinkish to grey, turning reddish before the breeding season. This colour change could be a delightful sight for anyone who loves bird photos or bird image name identification.

Habitat and Food of the Bird

  1. Asian Openbills are typically found in inland wetlands and rarely along river banks and tidal flats. They adapt well to agricultural landscapes, foraging in crop fields, irrigation canals, and seasonal marshes.
  1. Young birds disperse widely after fledging, and adults make long-distance movements in response to weather and food availability.
  1. Foraging often involves groups working together in close proximity in shallow waters or marshy grounds.
  1. Their primary diet consists of large molluscs, especially the Pila species. The bird uses its uniquely shaped beak to separate the shell from the snail’s body, with the action typically performed underwater.
  1. Besides snails, Asian Openbills also feed on water snakes, frogs, and large insects. They preferentially use natural marshes and lakes (especially during monsoons and winter) and irrigation canals (especially in the summer) for foraging.

Nesting and Nurturing

Asian Openbills, like other storks, are colonial nesters. They build their nests on trees near water bodies or in flooded areas.  During the dry season, which is when snails are most abundant, is usually when the breeding season occurs.Male and female birds both have a hand in building the nest, tending to the eggs, and caring for their young.. They lay a clutch of 2 to 4 eggs each time, and the incubation period lasts for approximately one month. The chicks typically stay in the nest for 30 to 35 days before being able to fly.


The Asian Openbill faces several threats, primarily habitat destruction due to urbanization and agriculture. The draining of wetlands for farming or building activities destroys their feeding and nesting grounds. Pesticides and other pollutants in water bodies also pose a threat, impacting the availability and quality of their food sources.

Moreover, egg collection and hunting for meat and the bird trade are also significant threats in some areas. Over the past years, an increasing number of these birds are being seen in the bird shop near me scenarios, which is a concerning trend.

IUCN Status and Conservation

Currently, the IUCN Red List does not assess the Asian Openbill. However, given the escalating threats this species faces, it is essential to monitor their population trends and habitat status closely. Conservation efforts need to focus on preserving their natural habitats, enforcing laws against hunting and trade, and creating awareness about their ecological importance.

In conclusion, the Asian Openbill is not just a bird; it’s a marvelous avian species, a spectacle of nature that inspires and educates. As we take flight in the vast skies of knowledge, let’s ensure that we also secure the flight of these incredible birds, contributing to biodiversity and ecological balance.

More info about Asian Openbill: Link

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