European White Stork

European White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Type of Animal:

Agricultural fields, farmland, pastures, meadows, water meadows, wetlands, riverbanks, marshland, swamps, ditches, fields, grassland, savanna, rice fields, steppe, temperate areas w/ shallow standing water, flooded river plains, riparian areas, Mediterranean scrub, settlements, rubbish dumps, lakes, saline wetlands, Mediterranean woodlands/forests, temperate broadleaf/mixed forest, temperate coniferous forest, alluvial forest, tropical moist forest

Breed in Europe, NW Africa, Asia Minor, parts of Levant, Syria, N Iraq, Caucasus, N Iran, SW Asia, C Asia (to W China) & South Africa. Winter in much of Africa (often fly over much of N Africa-including Sahara Desert-never land in desert), parts of Middle East (especially Persian Gulf), & parts of Indian subcontinent (often fly over W half of subcontinent) & Sri Lanka.  

Tall, long-legged, long-necked birds w/ straight pointed bills, adults have red beaks/red legs & white w/ black flight feathers/wing coverts, juveniles have duller brownish-red or orange bills/legs, chicks hatch w/ pinkish legs eventually turning to greyish-black, juvenile plumage similar to adult but black flight feathers/wing coverts often tinged w/ brown

Small mammals, amphibians, fish, lizards, snakes, earthworms, insects, insect larvae, bird eggs, young/small birds, mollusks, crustaceans, scorpions, spiders, refuse

Status in Wild:

Breeding in zoos, wildlife parks, & breeding centers. Reintroductions into areas of former range.

Flocks of 40-200 birds. Nest either as single monogamous pairs or colonies of 3-25 monogamous pairs.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock/Colony

Male: 9 lbs
Female: 6 lbs
Young: 4 lbs

1 month 

Life Span:
20 years in wild, 30 years in captivity

Male: 3.7 ft
Female: 2.62 ft
Young: 1.5 ft

Body Length:
Male: 3.75 ft
Female: 3.25 ft
Young: 2 ft

Tail Length:
0.5 in, same for both sexes

Main predators of adults are eagles. Hawks prey on chicks.
When migrating, they frequently ride thermals & use patterns of rising air.
These birds unafraid of people, often nesting on top of buildings & cable columns.
Adults communicate w/ bill clattering & barely audible hisses. Young communicate w/ harsh hisses, cheeping sounds, & cat-like mews (latter primarily used for begging).
Pairs lay 1-7 eggs a year. Weaker chicks often killed by parents who favor stronger offspring.
Females have 6.4 ft wingspan, males have 7 ft wingspan.

Fun Fact(s):
In Germany, presence on stork nests on houses believed to protect against fires.
Nests can be up to 9 ft tall & 6 ft in diameter.
Tiny Polish village of Zywkowo (only 30 people live there) in far NE Poland (on border w/ Kaliningrad) tourist attraction due to having more storks than people (around 160 storks). Arrival of storks in late March symbolizes onset of spring.
Featured in at least 2 of Aesop’s Fables-Fox and the Stork & Farmer and the Stork.
According to myth, these birds deliver babies. Also symbol of fertility/good luck.
European White Stork, stock photo

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