Storks are wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the order Ciconiiformes and make up the family Ciconiidae.
They are migratory birds that eat frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, small birds, and small mammals. They are often seen in groups, the two most common terms being a muster of storks and a phalanx of storks.
They use soaring, gliding flight, which uses thermal air currents. They are heavy, with wide wingspans.
They build large nests that are often used for many years. Some may change mates after migrations.
Stork Facts for Kids
- Their lifespan is 30 to 40 years.
- Storks are carnivores
- The stork is a large, long-legged wading bird
- There are 19 species of storks
- They build long-lasting nests using them for years
Storks and Their Precious Cargo are a German Myth
Storks deliver babies is an ancient legend dating back to the Victorian era in northern Germany.
It is believed that the fable was inspired by the epic flight of the white stork, which migrates south during midsummer and returns nine months later.
Some storks have sensitive bills that allow them to hunt by touch, and they are similar to herons in appearance, except for the color of the iris in the two species of Ephippiorhynchus.
Several different species of stork have different sized and shaped bills. The bill of the Ciconia stork is not very specialized, whereas the bill of the Ephippiorhynchus and jabiru are very specialized for hunting fish in shallow water.
Storks have syrinxes, but these are “variably degenerate,” and they make sounds less often than some birds.
Distribution and habitat
Storks have an unusually wide distribution, with three species in the Americas and eight species in tropical Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
Storks are mostly found in the tropics and have diverse habitat requirements. Some species are highly dependent on water and aquatic prey, but many others are found in the open grasslands of the savannah.
In southeast Asia, the Woolly-necked stork breeds close to people, and the lesser adjutant, milky stork, and wood stork live in mangroves.
Migration and movements
Black storks make an annual migration from Europe to the sub-Saharan region of Africa. They have developed routes to avoid long-distance travel across water, and they make stopovers along the way.
The Abdim’s stork is another migrant, and it migrates within the tropics while still making regular commutes from breeding sites to feeding areas.
Feeding and diet
African openbills feed on aquatic creatures like mudskippers, probing their burrows with their head and bill. Their reflexive snapping of the bill makes them distinguish between their prey and inanimate objects like branches.
African openbills feed in small groups and sometimes ride on the backs of hippos while foraging for mollusks. They can open snails with the tip of their bills.
Ciconia storks are more general in their diet, while Abdim’s stork eats swarms of locusts. White storks and Abdim’s storks are more specialist and are called “grasshopper birds.”
Many storks are solitary breeders, while others breed in colonies. White storks, Oriental storks, and Maguari storks may nest alone or in colonies that are within the visual range of other storks.
How fast can a stork Fly
They can fly very quickly. During good climatic conditions, the Storks can soar up to 16 mph on warm air currents.
Why do storks throw their babies?
It’s not uncommon for stronger chicks to kill weaker siblings, as is the case with some species, but some weak or small chicks are killed by their parents.
To increase the chance of survival of the remaining nestlings, this behavior occurs during times of food shortage.