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Animal Detail ViewՄանրամասն` նրանց մասին

27.02.2012

White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)


Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Ciconiiformes
Family: Ciconiidae
Genus: Ciconia
Species: Ciconia ciconia

 

Description

The white stork is a large bird (1m-1.15m, 2.3-4.4kg) with a wingspan between 195cm – 215cm. It has long legs, a long neck and a long straight beak. The beak and the legs are red, the white plumage of the head, neck, and body contrasts with black wing feathers. Sexes are similar in appearance, though males are slightly larger.

Juvenile birds are duller in coloration than adults. The black primaries are tinged with brown. Their blackish bills and dull brown legs slowly acquire the red color of the adults as they mature.

Range and Habitat

This species has an extreme large range, spending the warm summer months of the breeding season in parts of central and southern Europe, the Middle East and west-central Asia. In winter it follows spectacular migration routes to regions of southern Africa, flying straight across the vast expanse of the Sahara without pause and sometimes stopping in places such as Sudan to feed before moving on.

In winter drier habitats are preferred, such as grasslands, cultivated fields, and savannah. During the summer, the breeding season they prefer freshwater habitats such as wet pastures, flood-plains, marshes, lakes and rice-fields.

Distribution habitat of this species includes Armenia

Behavior

Though storks are considered to be largely silent birds, most species perform some variety of a bill-clattering display. This display reaches its most advanced form in the White Stork. They begin by throwing their heads straight back to create an amplifying resonance box in the gular pouch of the lower neck.

Storks form monogamous pairs for the duration of the breeding season but they do not migrate or spend over-winter together. If the same pair reforms in successive years it is largely due to their strong attachment to their nest site.

Diet

Storks are highly opportunistic feeders (their diet varies according to season, locality and prey availability) which will consume a wide variety of prey items including insects, amphibians (like frogs, toads or tadpoles), fish, small mammals (like rodents), reptiles (like snakes or lizards), earthworms, mollusks, crustaceans, small birds and, rarely, the chicks or eggs of ground-nesting birds.

They hunt mainly during the day, swallowing small prey whole, but killing and breaking apart larger prey before swallowing.

Wintering birds in Africa will congregate around the edges of grass-fires to capture small prey fleeing the flames, occupy dry savannahs and open grasslands but tend to congregate around lakes, ponds, and rivers.

Reproduction

It breeds from February to April in the Palearctic, while the tiny breeding population in South Africa breeds from September to November.

Males will often arrive first and vigorously defend the nest site from intruders. The subsequent arrival of the female will initiate a fascinating and intricate courtship display involving the male shaking its ruff and vigorously bobbing its head. The pair will then build a huge, complex nest, with some reaching over two meters wide and three meters deep. Made from sticks, grass and other foliage, the nest is situated high up off the ground, often in human habitations, nesting on the roofs of buildings and telegraph poles.

The female will lay three to five white eggs which are incubated for 33 to 34 days. The chicks are fed by both parents via regurgitation and will eat up to 60 percent of their body weight each day, until around nine weeks of age when the chicks leave the nest. The white stork is believed to reach sexual maturity at around four years of age and live for up to 33 years.

The species nests solitarily or in loose colonies, often using traditional nesting sites (there are records of individual nests being used every year for 100 years). Nesting sites are usually situated near foraging areas, but may be up to 2-3 km away.

Several bird species often nest within the large nests of the White Stork.

Migration

Storks are large birds that rely heavily on energy efficient soaring flight during migration. Soaring requires the presence of thermal air currents that are not found over water. So that restricts the migration routes of the birds as they are not able to cross large bodies of water such as the Mediterranean Sea to reach their wintering grounds in tropical Africa. They solve this problem by having the bulk of the European population split into two distinct migratory routes. Western birds cross the Mediterranean at the Straits of Gibraltar, while most of the eastern birds cross the Bosporus and circle around the Mediterranean through the Middle East. Migration is highly synchronized and flocks contain as many as 11,000 individuals. Birds migrating from Denmark to South Africa and back again may cover a total distance of 20,000 km. Small numbers of birds cross the Mediterranean directly by flying south from the southern tips of Italy and Greece. Some western White Storks join the Asiatic Storks to winter in India.

Conservation Status

On the IUCN Red List the Stork is classified as “Least Concern”, because this species has an extremely large range, some populations are decreasing but the overall population trend is increasing and the population size is very large, between 500,000 and 520,000 mature individuals.

The threats in the conservation of the storks are pollution, pesticides, wetlands drainage have severely reduced suitable foraging habitat across the breeding range, electrocution resulting from collisions with overhead power-lines and the hunting during the migration and in the wintering grounds.

After the industrialization in 19th century the population of white storks decreased, but due to its popularity, efforts to conserve the white stork can be traced back to before the Second World War. Conservation measures that have been implemented since then include constructing shields to provide protection against high voltage cables, preserving suitable breeding habitats, and constructing artificial nesting sites.

Captive propagation and reintroduction efforts have been hampered by their tendency to produce overly tame birds, which over-winter in Europe without migrating normally.

Storks in cultures

The legend that the European White Stork brings babies is believed to have originated in northern Germany, perhaps because storks arrive on their breeding grounds nine months after midsummer. Northern Europeans of Teutonic ancestry encouraged storks to nest on their homes hoping they would bring fertility and prosperity. This tradition of welcome and protection did not exist in the portions of France where the White Stork disappeared first.

Short Facts

  • In 1988, the IUCN considered the white stork Near Threatened, changing in 2004 to Least Concern

  • There are records of individual nests being used every year for 100 years

  • Nine pairs have shared one rooftop in Spain.

  • The flight pioneer Otto Lilienthal (1848-1896) was inspired by the soaring flight of storks when he built his first experimental gliders in the late 19th century.



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