European white stork in exhibit

European White Stork

Scientific Name
Ciconia ciconia
Geographic Range
Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia
Fish, small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, large insects, and other invertebrates
European white stork in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern Endangered Status Graph - Least Concern

More Information

European white storks are large wading birds. They are almost entirely white except for the black primary feathers on their wings and a bill and legs that are bright orange. Adults are between 39–45 inches tall, with legs making up half their height. Their wingspan can get to 65 inches long. Males and females look alike, except that males are slightly larger. Juveniles have a black bill and yellowish-gray legs.

These birds inhabit open areas with shallow water nearby. They nest in colonies of up to 30 pairs or travel in flocks that include thousands of birds. Breeding takes place between February and April. Nests are made of sticks and built up to 100 feet off the ground. Females lay three or four eggs per clutch and incubate them for about a month. The young reach maturity at age 3.

Did You Know?

  • European white storks are distance migrators. They travel with the assistance of thermal updrafts, which restricts their migratory routes. They cannot travel over open water, for example, but they can fly over the entire Sahara Desert.
  • Although they nest in trees and on cliffs, they have also been known to make use of roofs, pylons, poles, and other human-built spaces when available.
  • These birds face threats such as habitat loss of wetlands, the loss of suitable nesting sites, collision with human-made objects, and the lack of available food due to desertification.


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