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Stork: White stork

Ciconia ciconia:
Bird

IUCN Status
A species of “least concern” as it is very widespread particularly in Europe where it breeds and can be looked after. Many lowland European countries actively support and help this species by building nesting sites!



Diet

A large variety of prey is consumed by these birds, such as fish, invertebrates, snakes and even small rodents!

Habitat

During the summer white storks take up residence in wet pastures, marshes, lakes and rice fields in southern Europe, the Middle East and west-central Asia. During winter they migrate down to southern Africa where they prefer drier habitats such as grasslands, savannah and cultivated fields.

Behaviour

White storks forages in loose groups of up to 50 individuals, however hundreds of thousands may gather if there is a plentiful food source. When catching food these birds will arch their necks back and jab their prey with their sharp-edged bill.

Breeding

During the breeding season the male and female white stork will stay together, however they will not migrate together. Upon the next breeding season they may reunite although this is though to be due to an attachment to the nest site rather than each other. The male courtship display involves shaking its ruff and vigorously bobbing its head. Nests can reach over 2 metres wide and 3 metres deep! 3-5 eggs are usually laid and hatch after 33-34 days of incubation.

Fun Facts

When migrating these birds can cross the Sahara Desert without stopping for a break! In folk lore this is the stork that delivers babies in Europe!

At The Zoo

Our pair of white storks have a strong pair bond but have yet to lay fertile eggs. This may change in 2016 but as the female cannot fly we have to ensure she can hop and climb up into their traditional nest made of twigs high up off the ground.