White Stork

Article

July 5, 2022

The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a large-bodied wading bird that belongs to the Ciconiiformes order, including the Ciconiidae family, and is widely known throughout its range. In common parlance, this species of bird is referred to by the well-known term stork. Its popular names are gilice, cacó (in the family name Czakó), kossta, gago and eszterág. It is the official bird of Belarus and Lithuania, and is also regarded as a kind of regional national symbol in Slovenia's Mura region. The Hungarian Ornithological and Nature Conservation Association chose it as the bird of the year in 1980, 1981, 1994 and 1999. The interesting thing about the Hungarian people's favorite bird is that the migration of the migrating storks coincides with the two biggest Hungarian national holidays, because they arrive at their breeding grounds in Hungary around March 15, and large groups leave for their wintering grounds in Africa around August 20. During their migration, they take advantage of rising warm air currents, which is why they avoid large closed forests and seas. According to ornithologists, thanks to satellite tracking, most of them traditionally winter in the central region of Africa, mainly in Chad and Sudan, but some specimens also fly as far as the Republic of South Africa. It is a bird species that is widespread in Europe and Asia, but its habitats are decreasing. Its plumage is mostly white, but the ends of its wings are covered with black feathers. Its legs are long, its beak is long, pointed and red. It is a bird of prey and eats a wide variety of species; preys on insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and birds. Monogamous, but couples do not stay together for life; the pair builds the nest together from twigs, which they then use for years. The hen usually lays four eggs, which hatch after 33-34 days. The parents take turns incubating and both feed their young. The baby storks fly out at the age of 58-64 days, after which the parents feed them for another 7-20 days. The route of the white storks migrating south leads through Lebanon, where migrating birds are shot en masse by recreational sport hunters. According to the IUCN, it is not endangered. In the Middle Ages, human settlement and deforestation favored the species, but changes in production methods and industrialization led to the disappearance of the white stork from parts of Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Thanks to species conservation programs and reintroductions, it can now be found again in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden. It has natural predators and can host parasites. Chewing lice can settle in its plumage, and mites can hide in the nest. In many parts of its distribution area, it has inspired fairy tales and novels, as well as popular beliefs, such as that it brings the baby.

Distribution

It is widespread in almost all of Europe (except Scandinavia, the British Isles, France and Italy), North Africa and Asia Minor. Primarily a bird of plains and hills, it occurs everywhere in areas below 250 m above sea level. European white storks have two major populations, the southwestern one in Spain, Portugal, Algeria, and Morocco, and the eastern one, roughly covering central and eastern Europe from Germany to the Volga and Turkey. The breeding area of ​​the eponymous subspecies is large, but scattered. 25% of all white stork populations are concentrated in Poland. In the Middle Ages, human activity may have helped its spread, when forests were cleared to create pastures and fields in their place. At that time, it spread throughout most of Europe and spread as far as Sweden. It is a rare guest in the British Isles, where every year around