Painted stork with a twisted neck stuck at waters of Sungei Buloh, later eaten by crocodile

Part and parcel of nature.

Zi Shan Kow | September 13, 2021, 11:28 AM

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On Sep. 8, Facebook user Wee Aik Kiat shared a video of a painted stork struggling in shallow water in the Facebook public group "Bird Sightings".

Stuck for at least three hours

When he visited Sungei Buloh at 8am, Wee initially thought that the bird was hunting.

However, when Wee encountered the bird again at the same spot at 11:30am, he realised that something was wrong.

In the video, the bird appears anchored to the ground in a very uncomfortable position.

The stork's neck is twisted at an awkward angle, with its head held extremely close to its body.

It initially flaps its wings in a struggle to pry its bill and feet above the water.

Via Bird Sighting Facebook Group by Wee Aik Kiat.

Unable to free itself, the bird stood still with its wings spread.

Via Bird Sighting Facebook Group by Wee Aik Kiat.

Sought help from NParks and Acres

Wee quickly sent photos of the bird to Acres, which responded to his request.

According to Wee, a National Parks Board (NParks) staff member was also present at the scene.

When asked if NParks' will be rescuing the bird, Wee wrote that the staff said it was unlikely for them to intervene, since the stork is not endangered.

He expressed in the post caption that he was "saddened" to hear this.

Photo via Wee Aik Kiat.

Response by NParks and Acres

In response to Mothership's queries, NParks explained that the bird could not be rescued due to "unfavourable tide conditions" in the morning.

The bird was later not seen at the initial spot.

Here's a full comment from NParks:

"The National Parks Board (NParks) is aware of the Painted Stork that appeared to be stuck in the pond at low water level at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 8 Sep 2021.

However, due to unfavourable tide conditions in the morning, the bird could not be rescued.

On the afternoon of the same day, staff noticed that the bird was no longer at the location where it was last sighted and on our regular patrols since then, we have not been able to spot it."

According to Wee, Acres staff was also unable to locate the bird when they arrived at the scene.

Nature lover and volunteer Bernard Seah also pointed out the difficulty for any human to walk in soft mud mangrove and, in such a situation, it might be better to "let Mother Nature be".

Another nature lover Van Wangye also chimed in and agreed that human interference is not necessary in this case.

He wrote:

"Let us dont get too idealistic and compassionate on the wrong side.

This is a nature reserve not a park or garden.

Let the natural world handle itself. Let the crude, blunt circle of life take its own course.

Sometimes overly idealistic, overly compassionate with rational thinking will make thing worse."

Eaten by crocodile

Later that afternoon, other Facebook users gave an update on the bird: the bird did not manage to free itself, but had been eaten by a crocodile.

Though uncommonly spotted, estuarine crocodiles are native residents and can be found in Singapore's coastal waters and wetlands.

Shared on the Birds, Insects and Creatures of Asia group, Jenkins Chng captured a picture of the stork in the crocodile's jaws:

Image courtesy of Jenkins Chng.

About the painted stork

The painted stork is a large wading bird found in the wetlands of tropical Asia.

This species of stork is not native to Singapore, and is usually seen foraging mostly in the shallow waters of lakes, marshes and coastal shores.

They are carnivores, eating mostly fish and crustaceans.

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Top image by Wee Aik Kiat and Jenkins Chng.