Sunday, August 9, 2009

Waterbird foods: Asian Openbill and Little Heron

Wetlands offer a range of foods to birds, and the monsoon is a fantastic season to observe birds getting their goodies. In this entry, two species are shown doing what they do best.

Asian Openbills are super-specialized in their food habits - they almost exclusively eat the large snails associated with flooded rice paddies. It is believed that this stork species has increased in numbers and spread closely following the increase of rice cultivation in Asia. Above, you can see a stork getting hold of a nice-sized snail, prising open the snail's lid, and pulling out the meaty snail for a doubtlessly yummy early morning snack.

The Little Heron (variously also referred to as the Green Heron and Little Green Heron) is not common in the inland areas of northern India. A neat, compact little heron, this species is an expert fisherbird. Above, a heron catches and hangs on to a fish beside a rice field - good start for a breakfast that will no doubt include many more fishies.

(Photograph information: Asian OpenbillLs: 8 Aug 2009, Mainpuri district; Little Heron: 5 Aug 2009, Bhadohi district.)


  1. Beautiful pictures and nice little informative piece.

  2. Is it true that the distribution of these birds has followed the spread of the snails? And are these snails known to be pests of any kind?

  3. It appears that the Asian Openbills are indeed tracking the spread of rice cultivation thanks to these snails providing ample foods. See for a great story of these snails. Another superb example why humans are not qualified to play God with nature!

  4. Great work and great photographs. Keep it up and all the best.

    Pankaj Chandan.

  5. great pics and intresting info..about
    the intricacies of nature normally ignored

  6. those are great shoots and the quality of the photos is professional like, did you take the photos? I am a magazine editor and I would like to have some of your pictures on my animal related magazine