- They live close to humans, which has inspired many legends such as the idea that storks bring babies.
- Will build their nests in many places, including strange places such as chimney tops.
- Will form flocks of thousands of birds.
- Occasionally defecates onto its own legs to cool down.
- Has been seen using moss to give its young water in the nest.
Animals — Aves (birds) — Ciconiiformes (storks) — Ciconiidae (storks)
European storks (also known as white storks) are large white birds with black feathers on half of their wings. The adults have red beaks and have a wingspan of between 1.6-2.2m.
They eat a variety of animal prey from frogs to smaller birds, which they hunt on the ground. They breed with only one other stork at a time, so are sequentially monogamous, which also means they often don’t keep the same mate every year. They are well known for building large nests which they continually expand, sometimes inconveniently on human structures such as chimneys. They are a social bird and their main form of communication is ‘bill clattering’.
They are least concern on the IUCN red list. Before the industrial revolution they actually benefited from humans, as deforestation led to more open areas which they prefer. As farming practices changed, numbers fell again, but in the last 50 years or so their numbers have increased.
Habitat: Wetlands, meadows, pastures, savannahs, steppes and agricultural fields. They prefer areas with still, shallow water available.
–Average weight: 3.4kg
–Average length: 1.1m
In the wild up to: 26 years
In captivity up to: 48 years
Diet: It is a carnivore, preying on smaller animals. Eat a variety of prey items from lizards to insects to hatchlings and eggs.
Distribution: Found throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.