stork (Ciconia Ciconia) is a bird of the Ciconiidae family and is one of the largest birds of that family, sharing a close relationship and similarity with the Maguari Stork of South America and the Eastern White Stork of East Asia.

It is a long-distance migratory bird that has breeding grounds on different continents. Noted for its reproductive nature, but it shares a close proximity to humans.

The stork is a predominant bird in Europe.

Species

There are two subspecies of White Stork, the African White Stork found in northwestern and southern Africa and the European White Stork found in Europe.

White storks nest in central and eastern Europe, wintering in Africa. About a quarter of the white stork population lives in Poland.

Features

The stork is a large wading bird. They are covered in white feathers, except for the black primary feathers on the wings. They have long, sharp beaks and thin legs that are bright orange in color. The young have a black bill and yellowish gray legs. Adults stand in positions of 100 to 115 cm, and half of that height is made up of the legs. Its wingspan is 155 to 165 cm. Males are larger, on average, than females, but both sexes are identical in plumage.

Behavior

The stork generally moves in loose groups. During the breeding season, storks nest in small groups, but their nests are not close enough to be able to hear or see other pairs. Non-breeding individuals can appear in groups of up to 40 or 50 individuals during the breeding season.

These birds usually live near humans.

They form large groups of hundreds or thousands during migration and in their winter range. Their large size and their carnivorous habits force them to fly to foraging areas and to take advantage of paragliding and gliding whenever possible. They can sometimes be seen riding in thermals and taking advantage of the rising patterns of the air along migration routes. They are active during the day and not territorial.

Communication and Perception

White storks communicate through vocalizations and through postures and movements. Tactile communication occurs between parents and baby, as well as between male and female during mating behaviors. For example, after 14 days of age, young white storks ask their parents to pay their bills to beg for food.

Habitat

The stork inhabits open wetlands, savannas, steppes, grasslands, grasslands, and agricultural fields throughout its range. They prefer areas with shallow, stagnant water that are not too cold or wet. Their habitat preferences match human preferences for agricultural areas and settlements, resulting in long-term commensalism.

During the breeding season, the stork also look for areas with suitable structures to build nests, especially sunny places in tall trees or rooftops. They are also known to nest on walls, stacks of hay and straw, ruins, chimneys, and artificial nesting platforms.

Distribution

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

Food

The stork feeds on a variety of prey including insects, scorpions and spiders, frogs, tadpoles, fish, toads, rodents, lizards, snakes, crustaceans, earthworms, small mammals and hatchlings or eggs of birds that nest on the ground.

The stork visually searches for food as they walk with their beak pointed towards the mound. When they detect prey, storks push their beaks forward to grab their prey. In dry years they eat mainly insects and mice.

In wet years they feed mainly on aquatic animals. Pest insects, such as lobsters (Schistocerca gregaria, Locustana pardalina, Dociostaurus maroccanus), The worms (Spodoptera) and the Caterpillars (Laphygma exempta, Chloridea obsolete), form an important part of the diet in areas or years when they become abundant. The primary prey captured varies greatly with the regional abundance of prey.

Predators

There are few adult predators. Hawks and eagles can hunt the young. White storks nest in high places, protecting their young and eggs from most land-based predators. They also vigorously advocate for young people.

Reproduction

The stork begins its mating season each spring when the males return to the breeding grounds, in March or April. The males arrive a few days before the females. While waiting for the females, the males enlarge the nest that he and his mate used the year before. The male and female coo softly to each other as a form of courtship, and they give loud and loud warnings to keep intruders away.

Initially, when a female meets a male, she demonstrates'bow your head«. In this display, the male is lowered into the nest as in an incubation posture. Then, he stretches his long neck and begins to move his head from side to side. Then the male and female will cement their relationship with a couple with a display of «from top to bottom', In which birds pump their heads up and down with outstretched wings. This performance is also accompanied by a rumble created with the pickaxe.

We can appreciate the beautiful beak of the stork.

The stork remains in monogamous pairs for life starting at three or four years of age. Because of this, there is a close pair bond between the male and the female.

Storks nest in loose, informal colonies and breed in small groups, consisting of a few pairs. These pairs can nest within sight of each other, but not very close. The nests are huge and bulky and are built from sticks, twigs, rags, paper, and other readily available materials. Nests can be up to 2 meters in diameter and 3 meters deep. It is one of the largest nests of all birds.

Both males and females participate in nest building, but males tend to bring more materials. Nests have been built on towers, roofs, walls, haystacks, telephone poles, chimneys, built nest towers, trees, cliffs, and occasionally on the ground.

Storks mate annually. Females lay 3-6 eggs, which hatch after about a month. Young storks can leave their nesting areas and become independent after about eight weeks. They do not begin to reproduce until they are about four years old.

Nest building is an important part of parenting because it creates a suitable environment for the young. Both males and females spend time incubating the eggs, feeding the young, and protecting the chicks. Both parents feed the young with regurgitated food every hour until the young reach 10 days of age, and then every two hours until they reach 15 days of age. Young begin to be born between 58 and 64 days of age and become independent 7 to 20 days later.

Shelf Life / Longevity

The oldest life span recorded in the wild is 25 years, individuals in captivity can live up to 48 years. Mortality after the second year of life has been estimated at 21%, before 2 years of age it can be 30% or higher.

State of conservation

The breeding population of the stork declined for most of the 20th century. This population decline was largely due to the destruction of suitable foraging habitats due to the intensification of agricultural development. However, white stork populations have rebounded XNUMX% in recent years due to land use policies, especially in Spain and Eastern European countries.

Conservation efforts include the preservation of wetlands through the EcoFund Foundation and the Polish Society of Friends of Wildlife. The conservation of wetlands is not the only conservation effort. White storks can also build their huge nests on rooftops. In areas where they are not tolerated or where the nests are considered dangerous, the Polish Pro-Natura Society removes and relocates them. White stork populations in Poland are especially healthy, 1 in 4 storks are said to be 'Polish'.

The stork is monogamous, they live for life with the same partner.

Relationship with humans

White storks influence their prey populations. They have a long-term association with humans in the Palearctic because they prefer areas similar to those preferred by humans for agriculture.

Economic importance for humans: Positive

The benefits of Ciconia ciconia come largely from its aesthetic value. They also help control populations of agricultural pests, such as grasshoppers.

Economic importance for humans: Negative

Storks often build their large stick nests on rooftops, chimneys, and electrical towers, which can be dangerous and annoying. In some areas the presence of stork nests is seen as a sign of good luck and the nests are tolerated.

Popular culture

According to the legend of northern Europe, the stork is responsible for taking babies to their new parents. The legend is very old, but it was popularized by a story of Hans Christian Andersen XNUMXth century called «Storks«. German folklore held that storks found babies in caves or swamps and carried them home in a basket on their backs or on their beaks. These caves contained stork stones. Babies were handed over to the mother or dropped down the chimney. Households notified when they wanted children by placing candy for the stork on the windowsill.

The stork is a popular motif on postage stamps, appearing on over 120 stamps issued by more than 60 stamp issuers.

The stork appears in 2 of the Fables of Aesop; 'The Fox and the Stork'Y'The Farmer and the Stork'.

Storks have little fear of humans if they are not disturbed, and they often nest in buildings in Europe. In Germany, the presence of a blow nest in a house was believed to protect against fires. They were also protected by the belief that their souls were human.

The Hebrew word for these medium-sized birds is chasidah, which means "merciful" or "kind." Greek and Roman mythology presents storks as models of parental devotion, and it was believed that they did not die of old age, but instead flew to the islands and took on the appearance of human beings.

This bird has large wings.

List of other interesting animals