Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana


Justification of Red List category
This stork is listed as Endangered because it has a very small population, which has undergone a rapid decline that is projected to continue in the future, based on current levels of deforestation, wetland reclamation for agriculture, overfishing, and disturbance.

Population justification
The population was estimated at 3,000 individuals by Xinzhong (1999) and Zhiyong (1999). The 2005 Yangtze waterbird survey recorded 1,194 individuals (M. Barter in litt. 2006). National population estimates include: c.100-10,000 breeding pairs, c.50-1,000 individuals on migration and c.50-1,000 wintering individuals in China; < c.50 individuals on migration and < c.50 wintering individuals in Taiwan; < c.1,000 wintering individuals in Korea and < c.100 breeding pairs and < c.50 individuals on migration in Russia (Brazil 2009). Overall then, the population is likely to number 1,000 to 2,499 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Significant declines in breeding birds have been reported in Russia: its overall population is suspected to be decreasing rapidly, in line with levels of deforestation and the drainage of wetlands for agricultural development.

Distribution and population

Ciconia boyciana breeds in the Amur and Ussuri basins along the border of Russia and mainland China (BirdLife International 2001), and small numbers breed in the lower reaches of the Wuyuerhe river in Heilongjiang province (Wu Qingming in litt. 2012). More than 700 birds were reported in Naolihe National Nature Reserve, China, in 2015 (Huiying 2015). It is a summer vagrant in eastern Mongolia. The main wintering grounds are in the lower Yangtze basin and southern China, as far south as Taiwan (China) and Hong Kong (China). Small numbers winter in North Korea, South Korea and Japan, and irregularly in the Philippines, north-eastern India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. The population is estimated at 3,000 individuals (Xinzhong 1999, Zhiyong 1999), with significant declines in breeding birds reported in Russia. The 2005 Yangtze waterbird survey recorded 1,194 individuals (M. Barter in litt. 2006).


It nests on tall trees and artificial structures such as electricity pylons. It feeds on fish and small animals in open, usually fresh water, wetlands, and occasionally coastal tidal flats. It often feeds in shallow water (20-30mm) Is often seen in rice paddy fields (Ezaki et al. 2014).


Deforestation and drainage of wetlands for agricultural development are the main causes of decline in its breeding grounds. In Russia, spring fires threaten breeding sites and kill nest trees. Reclamation of wetlands, particularly in the Yangtze basin, has reduced the area of habitat for wintering birds and caused disturbance. Overfishing is a problem at many breeding and wintering sites in China. A satellite-tracking study indicated very high juvenile mortality on passage and in winter (Van den Bossche et al. 2001). Wintering birds move large distances between sites (Van den Bossche et al. 2001). Birds are hunted and collected for zoos, in Russia and China, despite legal protection. Dams on the Amur River and the forthcoming Three Gorges Dam in China are likely to have detrimental impacts upon the species, although they may affect this species less severely than others as they feed on fish and are therefore less susceptible to changes in water levels (M. Barter in litt. 2006, S. Chan in litt. 2006). More than 30 storks were found poisoned at Beidagang Reservoir in 2012, likely victims of poaching of geese and ducks (Simba in litt. 2012).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I, CMS Appendix I. It is legally protected in Russia, Mongolia, China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, North Korea, South Korea and Japan. Protected areas in its breeding and wintering grounds include Lake Bolon, Lake Khanka and Khingansky (Russia), and Sanjiang, Honghe, Zhalong, Changlindao, Yanwodao, Xingkai Hu, Horqin, Shengjin Hu, Poyang Hu (more than 1,600 birds wintering since 2002 [Ji and Wang 2007]), Dong Dongting Hu and Chen Hu (China). Reintroduction programmes are underway in South Korea and Japan. In 2008, there were said to be c.100 individuals in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, following the re-introduction of the species using chicks from Russia (Matsuda 2008). In 2013 however there were reported to be 76 wild individuals released in Japan, with the chick survival rate being as high as 80% (Ezaki et al. 2014). A number of conservation actions have been implemented locally to protect birds breeding near Daqing City, Heilongjiang, China (Zou et al. 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to obtain an up-to-date estimate of the total population size. Monitor population trends through regular surveys. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Estimate levels of illegal capture. Establish protected areas on the Sanjiang plain, China. Expand the Khanka State Reserve, Russia, to include all existing and potential nest-sites and develop and extend current captive breeding efforts. Maintain tall trees for nesting and add artificial nest poles to potential breeding sites. Control overfishing in its breeding and wintering grounds. Control human activities at nest sites between 25th March and 20th July. Campaign against the use of fire by farmers in the breeding grounds. Prevent poisoning from pesticides and poaching. Re-establish viable breeding populations in South Korea and Japan. Work to restore habitat adjacent to already-occupied habitat, rather than creating new habitat patches (see Liu et al. 2008). Compensate farmers for favourable land management in the species's breeding grounds (Wu Qingming in litt. 2012). Set up an education and awareness programme at East Dongting Lake.


100-115 cm. Typical white-and-black stork with distinctive black bill. All white, apart from contrasting black lower scapulars, tertials, greater coverts, primaries and secondaries. Red legs. Juveniles have browner greater coverts and duller legs. Similar spp. White Stork C. ciconia adult has shorter orange-red bill and juvenile has brownish-red bill.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Chan, S., Bird, J., Benstead, P., Crosby, M., Peet, N., Taylor, J.

Chan, S., Barter, M., Li, Z.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Ciconia boyciana. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/oriental-stork-ciconia-boyciana on 05/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 05/10/2023.