Whilst visiting my mother at Sandown Retirement Village in Pinetown, Kwa Zulu Natal, I met a friend of hers who had formed a relationship with a pair of woolly necked storks. These are a very gentle member of the stork family, and although wary appear to be quite happy to interact with humans. The adults have red eyes.
Over the past few years Professor Ken Knight has been putting out food for this pair of storks. During this time he has conditioned them to fly to the Village at 12 noon every day for a meal of chopped chicken bones, or similar type of food. The birds appear on the other side of the little dam at about 10 minutes before the hour, and strictly at 12 noon, they fly across the water and march up to their feeding area. In breeding season, they nest in New Germany, but still make daily visits for their midday meal. On several occasions they have brought their young across to be introduced to Ken and his food. If for some reason the food is not ready on time, the birds will go up to his lounge doors and shout for it. This type of animal training is always mutually rewarding. The birds get a meal provided for them, and Ken and his wife have the pleasure of the birds company.
According to Roberts Birds of South Africa, woolly necked storks “usually occur near water, banks of rivers and lagoons where they wade about feeding, also on open grassland. Seldom settle on trees outside the breeding season and frequently seen standing about apparently in meditation”. These storks naturally feed on insects, crabs, molluscs, fish and lizards. After every meal, the storks go down to the water for a drink before flying off.