[order] Ciconiiformes | [family] Ciconiidae | [latin] Ciconia ciconia | [UK] White Stork | [FR] Cigogne blanche | [DE] Weißstorch | [ES] Cigüeña Blanca | [IT] Cicogna bianca | [NL] Ooievaar

Ooievaar determination

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White storks are large, wading birds. They are covered in white feathers, except for the black primary feathers on their wings. They have long, sharp bills, and slender legs that are bright orange. Hatchlings and young have black bills and yellowish gray legs. Adults stand from 100 to 115 cm stall, with half of that height being made up by the legs. Their wingspan is 155 to 165 cm. Males are larger, on average, than females but both sexes are identical in plumage.

White storks inhabit open wetlands, savannas, steppes, meadows, pastures, and agricultural fields throughout their range. They prefer areas with shallow, standing water that are not too cold or humid. Their habitat preferences coincide with human preferences for agricultural areas and settlements, resulting in a long-term commensalism. During the breeding season, white storks also seek out areas with suitable structures on which to build nests, especially sunny sites on tall trees or rooftops. They have also been known to nest on walls, stacks of hay and straw, ruins, chimneys, and artificial nesting platforms.

European white storks breed throughout Europe, North Africa, Asia Minor, and the Middle East, although they have a fairly fragmented distribution within that large area. Breeding populations have been extirpated from many areas of Europe historically. They migrate into tropical Africa, parts of the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent during the winter.

Fish, frogs also amphibia, insects, snails, crabs and small reptiles, mammals and birds. Usually forages in shallow water, catching prey with a sharp stab of bill.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 500,000-520,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

Breeding starts towards spring in Palearctic. In North Africa mostly in cool dry season. Solitary nester, in forest trees. Large stick nest, lined with moss, grass and leaves, cemented together with earth. 3-4 eggs, incubation 32-38 days. chicks have white down. Sexual maturity at 3 year old.

Migratory. Highly dependent on soaring and thus thermals, crossing deserts, but avoiding large bodies of water and extensive forests. Migration of European birds very well known; populations of race ciconia from SE Palearctic may winter mostly from Iran to India. Birds winter in India Sept/Oct-Mar/Apr; one stork ringed in Germany was recovered in NW India. Most migration takes place from mid-morning to early afternoon.