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Ciconiidae - Storks

Stork
Maguari Stork Ciconia maguari ©James Lowen Website

The Ciconiidae or Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They are the only family in the order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families.

Storks dwell in many regions and tend to live in drier habitats than the closely related herons, spoonbills and ibises; they also lack the powder down that those groups use to clean off fish slime. Storks have no syrinx and are mute, giving no call; bill-clattering is an important mode of communication at the nest. Many species are migratory. Most storks eat frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, small birds and small mammals. There are nineteen living species of storks in six genera.

Various terms are used to refer to groups of storks, two frequently used ones being a muster of storks and a phalanx of storks.

Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves energy. Soaring requires thermal air currents. Storks are heavy, with wide wingspans: the Marabou Stork, with a wingspan of 3.2 metres and weight up to 8kg joins the Andean condor in having the widest wingspan of all living land birds.

Their nests are often very large and may be used for many years. Some nests have been known to grow to over two metres in diameter and about three metres in depth. Storks were once thought to be monogamous, but this is only partially true. They may change mates after migrations, and may migrate without a mate.

Storks' size, serial monogamy, and faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to their prominence in mythology and culture.

The centres of stork diversity are in tropical Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with eight and six breeding species respectively. Just three species are present in the New World: Wood Stork, Maguari Stork and Jabiru, which is the largest flying bird of the Americas. Two species, White Stork and Black Stork, reach Europe and western temperate Asia, while one species, Oriental Stork, reaches temperate areas of eastern Asia, and one species, Black-necked Stork, is found in Australasia (where it is confusingly often called jabiru).

It is generally accepted that there are 19 species of storks in the family Ciconidae; they are:

Wood Stork Mycteria americana
Milky Stork Mycteria cinerea
Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis
Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

Asian Openbill Anastomus oscitans
African Openbill Anastomus lamelligerus

Black Stork Ciconia nigra
Abdim's Stork Ciconia abdimii
Woolly-necked Stork Ciconia episcopus
Storm's Stork Ciconia stormi
Maguari Stork Ciconia maguari
White Stork Ciconia ciconia
Oriental Stork Ciconia boyciana

Black-necked Stork Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus
Saddle-billed Stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis

Jabiru Jabiru mycteria

Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus
Greater Adjutant Leptoptilos dubius
Marabou Stork Leptoptilos crumeniferus

Family Links

Storks Ciconiidae

Family Account

Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long, stout bills. They belong to the family Ciconiidae. They are the only family in the order Ciconiiformes, which was once much larger and held a number of families.

Storks Ciconiidae

HBW Family Account

Annotated species list

Storks Ciconiidae

Family Account

The storks are a small family of large waders found locally in the tropics. Some are strongly associated with swamps but others inhabit extensive grasslands.

Storks Ciconiidae

Cornell Family Account

Species Links

White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Species Account

The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a large bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. Its plumage is mainly white, with black on its wings. Adults have long red legs and long pointed red beaks.

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis

BirdLife Species Account

BirdLife species account…

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis

HBW Species Account

HBW species account...

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis

Species Account

Species account....

White Stork Ciconia ciconia

BirdLife Species Account

White Stork Ciconia ciconia

IUCN Species Status

White Stork Ciconia ciconia

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis

IUCN Species Status

Yellow-billed Stork Mycteria ibis

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

Species Account

The painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is a large wader in the stork family. It is found in the wetlands of the plains of tropical Asia south of the Himalayas in the Indian Subcontinent and extending into Southeast Asia. Their distinctive pink tertial feathers of the adults give them their name.

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

BirdLife Species Account

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

IUCN Species Status

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Tantalus leucocephalus Pennant, 1769, Sri Lanka. Formerly placed in genus Ibis. Has hybridized with M. cinerea both in the wild and in captivity. Monotypic.

Painted Stork Mycteria leucocephala

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Wood Stork Mycteria americana

Species Account

The wood stork (Mycteria americana) is a large American wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It was formerly called the "wood ibis", though it is not an ibis.

Wood Stork Mycteria americana

Cornell Species Account

A large, white, bald-headed wading bird of the southeastern swamps, the Wood Stork is the only stork breeding in the United States

Wood Stork Mycteria americana

BirdLife Species Account

Wood Stork Mycteria americana

HBW Species Account

Taxonomy: Mycteria americana Linnaeus, 1758, Brazil. Has sometimes been treated as sole member of genus (other three species then being placed in genus Ibis); feeding and display behaviour of all four, however, are very similar, with differences mainly in bare parts. Monotypic.

Wood Stork Mycteria americana

Species Account

Sound archive and distribution map.

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 19

Useful Reading

Schwarzstorch (Black Stork)

Burmeister, G Schroeder, P, Westarp Wissenschaften 2004

ISBN: 3894322195

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Other Links

Storks Without Borders

Website

Our site is on satellite tracking of Belgian White Storks. Since 1999, we tracked several storks and followed them by jeep from Belgium to Spain. The sites has recently be translated in English and provides links to stork sites all over the world, including the Oriental White Stork. The movements of the Storks are updated daily…

White Storks nest online camera POLAND

Website

White Storks nest online camera with up to 18x optical zoom - Przygodzice, Barycz Valley, South Wielkopolska region, Poland…

Photographers & Artists

Jabiru Jabiru mycteria

Gallery

Moving Image