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White Stork

Classification
  • Order: Ciconiiformes
  • Family: Ciconiidae
  • Genus: Ciconia
  • Species: ciconia
Fun Fact

These birds form large flocks during migration, sometimes numbering in the thousands of individual birds. When joined by white pelicans and migrating raptors, their migration groups have stretched for 125 miles.

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About White Storks

White storks are large wading birds that can stand up to about 4 feet and have a wingspan of 7 feet. These birds are covered by white feathers, with black feathers at the tip of their wings. They have long red to orange legs with the same color beak, which is long and pointed to catch food.

The male and female look the same, with the male being larger than the female. Storks are known for their elaborate mating dances and white storks have their own unique “dance.” The male will start off by crouching over the prospective nest that he has built or enlarged. Once, crouched he will shake his head back and forth. Next, both the male and female will extend their heads, flap their wings and clack their bills, creating a clattering sound. This “dance” is done every year and is thought to cement a bond between the mating pair. White storks are socially monogamous, meaning that the same pair will raise offspring (not necessarily genetically the same) together.

Storks are known to be long lived. The longest lived wild bird was documented at 25 years, while individuals in human care have been known to live up to 48 years.

White Storks in the Wild

Habitat

This species is most often found in open areas with shallow standing water. They often prefer the same type of habitat that humans choose for agriculture. They will build their nest on sunny sites in tall trees or roof tops.

Location

These storks breed throughout Europe, with large populations in Eastern Europe, and Asia Minor. There are fragmented populations in the Middle East. These storks migrate into sub-Saharan Africa and parts of India.

Diet

The white stork eats a wide range of food, including insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals, and small birds. They primarily feed on the ground, in short grasses and in shallow water.

Population Status

The white stork has been rated as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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