Asian Openbill Stork


Conservation status: LEAST CONCERN
Common name: asian openbill stork, asian openbill
Scientific name: Anastomus oscitans
Type: bird
Diet: snails
Length: 81 cm
Weight: n/a

This distinctive stork is found mainly in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is greyish or white with glossy black wings and tail and the adults have a gap between the arched upper mandible and recurved lower mandible. Young birds are born without this gap which is thought to be an adaptation that aids in the handling of snails, their main prey. Although resident within their range, they make long distance movements in response to weather and food availability.

In colonial India, sportsmen shot the openbill for meat, calling it the “beef-steak bird”.

Adults of the species can be distinguished by the gap between the upper and lower mandibles of their bills.

Mostly native to India and Sri Lanka, the birds were observed in Singapore for the first time in early 2013, according to a paper published in Nature in Singapore, which is the online journal of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at the National University of Singapore.


  1. BirdLife International (2012). “Anastomus oscitans“. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  2. Ali S & Ripley SD (1978). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan.
  3. Finn, Frank (1906). How to the know the Indian waders
  4. The Strait Times (

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