African Woollyneck Ciconia microscelis


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, thus it is not thought to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
This species's population has been estimated to number c.10,000-100,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2014).

Trend justification
The population is thought to be stable (Wetlands International 2014).


Behaviour This species is predominantly sedentary, although it may make migratory north-south movements (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005). It mainly breeds during the dry season (Hancock et al. 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1992) (apart from the population in northern Sudan which breeds during the rains) (del Hoyo et al. 1992). The species breeds in solitary pairs, although these pairs may nest close together in East Africa (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and loose colonies of up to 4-5 nests are occasionally reported (Hancock et al. 1992). When not breeding the species is normally seen solitarily or in pairs, rarely in small flocks (Brown et al. 1982), although it may collect in flocks of several hundred (del Hoyo et al. 1992) on migration (Brown et al. 1982). Groups of 20-40 individuals may also gather in communal nightly roosts in trees or on sandbanks (Hockey et al. 2005), pairs often using the same tree night after night (Brown et al. 1982, Hockey et al. 2005). Habitat The species shows a preference for natural wetland habitats (Sundar 2006) in savanna and grassland, including rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, water-holes, lagoons, dams, flood plains, marshes, and freshwater and peat swamp forests (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), although it will also use artificial habitats such as rice paddy-fields, flooded pastures, cultivated fields (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992), golf courses, firebreaks and roads in tree and sugar-cane plantations (particularly when they are flooded) (Hockey et al. 2005). It generally avoids forests, but is occasionally found in light woodland or forest clearings (del Hoyo et al. 1992). It also frequents coastal mudflats or coral reefs (del Hoyo et al. 1992), mangrove swamps and estuaries (Hockey et al. 2005), and can be found up to 3,000 m in East Africa (Hancock et al. 1992). Diet The species is predominantly carnivorous, its diet consisting of fish, frogs, toads, snakes, lizards, large insects and larvae (del Hoyo et al. 1992) (e.g. termite alates and army worms Spodoptera exempta) (Hockey et al. 2005), crabs, molluscs and marine invertebrates (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Breeding site The nest is a large stick platform built 10-30 m (and sometimes up to 50 m) above the ground or over water, on a fork of a horizontal branch in a tall tree (Brown et al. 1982, Hancock et al. 1992, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Hockey et al. 2005).


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Malpas, L., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Ciconia microscelis. Downloaded from on 29/01/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 29/01/2022.