White Stork

White Stork Facts
Size Up to 3.8 ft (1.15 m); up to 7 ft (2.15 m) (wingspan)
Speed Unknown
Weight 11-22 lb (5-10 kg)
Lifespan 30-40 years
Food Earthworms, insects, frogs, mice, fishes
Predators Hyenas, jackals
Habitat Europe, Africa, Asia
Order Ciconiiformes
Family Storks
Scientific name Ciconia ciconia
Characteristics Clatters with its long red bill
Why Do People Say That White Storks Bring the Babies?

The white stork breeds in spring on chimneys and roofs and hatches its fledglings there. It is not completely clear where the saying originates from, but it could have come about like this:

The most popular date for weddings in Sweden is the midsummer celebration in June (highest position of the sun during the year). Many babies are born nine months later, i. e. in the following spring – at the same time when the white storks return from their winter quarters in Africa. This is why both incidences may seem closely connected to each other.

White Stork White Stork - Photo: Peter Schwarz/Shutterstock

Why Does the White Stork Clatter?

If two white storks meet in their nest, they often greet each other by clattering with their bills.

Why Does the Stork Have Such Long Legs?

White storks have a graceful and noble appearance, and strut about with dignity on their long legs. They use them to wade through deeper waters or high grass looking for food. Their long neck comes in conveniently to stretch down and catch the prey.

White Stork White Stork - Photo: mashy2004/Shutterstock

The Largest and the Smallest

The largest stork is the marabou with a length of 5 ft (152 cm), the smallest is the hamerkop with 1.7 ft (52 cm). The marabou also holds the record regarding weight and wing span: When it spreads its wings, the width can measure up to 9.8 ft (3 m), and it can weigh up to 19.6 lb (8.9 kg). The lightest of all species is the hamerkop with just 1 lb (470 g).

Storks on Holiday: The East and the West Stork

Storks are birds of passage and fly about 10,000 km south every winter. In contrast to the rough winter landscape, they find enough food there. There are two main routes for the storks to reach their “holiday” destination in Africa: Via Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar, or via the Jordan valley and the Sinai Peninsula. They do not fly across the open sea as they are dependent on the thermal lift (= updraft, which occurs when the sun warms the air above the surface of the earth).

The Nest of the Stork

Storks build their nests mainly with branches and twigs. Often they return to their nest year after year in order to further extend it and breed there again. Mostly they choose lofty places for this to better protect their offspring from animals of prey and to have a better overview of their feeding area.

The Offspring: Fluffy and Hungry

Little stork fledglings are almost naked, but very quickly develop a dark fluff that keeps them warm. The nestlings are being taken care of their parents and eat about 60 % of their body weight. If you weighed about 88 lb (40 kg), you would have to munch away 24 kg of food every day. After 3 - 4 weeks, the little storks become a little more active and test their wings for the first time. Yet, they still have to wait for the big moment, because it takes a few months until their feathers are fully developed.

Easter Bunny in Thuringia

In former times, it was the stork instead of the Easter bunny which brought the delicious chocolate eggs in Thuringia.

National Bird

The white stork is the national bird of Poland and Lithuania.

Bird of the Year

In Germany the white stork was the bird of the year in 1984 and in 1994.

White Stork White Stork - Photo: Kwiatek7/Shutterstock

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