White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)


Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family:    Ciconiidae
Size:    Length: 40 to 46 inches (102 to 117 cm) Wingspan: Up to 84 inches (213 cm)
Weight: 5 to 10 pounds (2.25 to 4.5 kg)
Diet: Insects, fish, lizards, snakes, frogs, birds and rodents
Distribution: Europe, Asia and Africa
Young:  3 to 5 chicks, once a year
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick  Group: Muster
Lifespan: Up to 30 years



·     The white stork belongs to a family of 17 species of birds and is also related to herons.

·     The white stork is the national bird of Lithuania—March 25th is the Day of the Stork.

·     The legend that white storks bring babies is believed to have originated in Germany.

·     Storks and eagles build the largest nests of any birds, weighing up to 110 pounds (50 kg).

·     People once believed that if a stork made its nest on their home, it was a sign of longevity, fertility and/or riches to come.

·     In China, the stork is a symbol of immortality. 



Just as black storks are not all black, white storks are not all white—they are mostly white but have black feathers on their broad, rounded wings. White storks also have a reddish-orange, pointed bill and long, red legs. Males and females look alike, but males are larger. 



White storks live in discontinuous populations throughout Europe, including Holland, Germany, and Denmark, and travel south during the winter to India, China and Africa, usually south of the Sahara Desert. 


Feeding Habits

White storks eat insects, fish, lizards, snakes, frogs, birds and rodents. They can often be seen wading in the shallow water of streams and marshes, looking for fish and frogs, as well as searching in rich paddies and grasslands for other small prey. 



The breeding season begins in April and runs through to July. White stork couples often return to the same nest every year. The large nest, made of sticks and twigs and lined with grass, may be up to five feet wide (1.5 m) and almost as deep. The female does not lay all the eggs at once—usually a day or two passes between each egg. The male and female take turns incubating the eggs for 32 to 35 days, until the white down-covered chicks hatch within a few days of each other. The young storks make a sound reminiscent of the mewing of kittens. Within 10 days, their black feathers begin to appear, and their black bills turn orange like those of their parents. Storks take good care of their offspring, even continuing to feed them after they reach the fledgling stage at eight to nine weeks of age. The youngsters do not begin to breed until they reach the age of four. 



White storks live in large colonies and even during breeding season, when they form pairs, their nests are nearby those of other storks. Storks can be found near marshy grounds or open fields, and they build their nests high up in trees, at the tops of buildings, or other manmade structures. They are powerful and graceful flyers, soaring through the air with their usually curved necks out straight, and their legs trailing. They lack fully developed vocal organs, but make noises by softly cooing, hissing, rattling their bills together, or hitting their bills on something hard such as wood. 



White storks were once found in France, Belgium, Sweden and Switzerland but have been extirpated from these countries. They are in decline throughout their northern range due to pollution, chemical pesticides, hunting and habitat destruction, but have been protected for centuries in Europe. White storks are not considered a conservation concern at this time. 







White Stork Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Harrison, C. and Greensmith, A. (1993). Birds of the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited