The white stork is the largest bird that can be found in our region. The wingspan of a stork is up to 220 cm, the weight of the bird is about 4.5 kg. In our country, storks are considered the patrons of family life and home comfort. It is believed that if storks settled near the house, this is fortunately. Storks are birds with a strong family organization, they live in pairs and raise their own offspring together.
Origin of the species and description
White stork (Ciconia ciconia). Detachment storks. Aist family. Genus Aista. View White stork. The stork family includes 12 species and 6 genera. This family belongs to the order of legged birds. According to scientific data, the first storks lived in the era of the upper Eocene. Some of the most ancient remains of storks were found by scientists in France. The stork family reached its maximum peak of diversity in the Oligocene.
Apparently, in those days, the conditions for the life and development of birds of this genus were as good as possible. In the modern world, there is a description of 9 fossil genera, as well as 30 species. Some species of storks that exist in the modern world lived during the Eocene. And also 7 modern species are known from the Pleistocene period.
Video: White stork
It is known that the ancient storks were many times larger than modern birds, also differed slightly from modern birds in features of the physiological structure and lifestyle. The modern white stork is a large white bird. The wings have black trim. The back of the stork's body is also black. In appearance, females do not differ from males. The size of the bird is about 125 cm. The wingspan is about 200 cm. The body weight of the bird is about 4 kg.
The Ciconia species was first described by the secular scientist Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Carl Linnaeus first mentioned this species in a unified system of classification of flora and fauna.
Appearance and features
The stork is an almost entirely white bird. On the wings and a little behind there is a fringing of black primary feathers, it is more visible during the flight of the bird. When the bird is standing, it looks like the rear of the bird is black, due to the fact that the wings are folded. During the mating season, the plumage of a bird can take on a pinkish tint. The bird has a large pointed beak. Long neck. Small bird head. Bare black skin is visible around the eyes. The iris is dark.
The main part of the plumage of the bird — these are flight feathers and feathers covering the shoulder part of the bird. On the neck and chest of the bird there are long feathers, if the bird is disturbed, it fluffs them. And also males fluff feathers during mating games. The tail is slightly rounded. The beak and legs of the bird are reddish in color. The legs of white storks are bare. While moving on the ground, the stork shakes its head slightly. In the nest and on the ground, it can stand on one leg for quite some time.
The flight of a stork is a mesmerizing sight. A bird gently soars in the air with almost no flapping wings. During landing, the bird sharply presses its wings to itself and pushes its legs forward. Storks are migratory birds, and can easily travel long distances. Birds mainly communicate with each other by rattling their beaks. While clicking with its beak, the bird, throwing its head back and extending its tongue, such clicking replaces voice communication. Sometimes they can make hissing sounds. Storks are long-lived and the average white stork lives about 20 years.
Where do white storks live?
White storks of the European subspecies live throughout Europe. From the Iberian Peninsula to the Caucasus and the cities of the Volga region. White storks can be found in Estonia and Portugal, Denmark and Sweden, France and Russia. Due to the ongoing resettlement of birds of this species, storks began to nest in the cities of Western Asia, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. And also storks can be found in Transcaucasia. These birds usually winter there. In our country, storks inhabited the territory of the Kaliningrad region for a long time.
At the end of the 19th century, these birds began to inhabit the Moscow region. Later, storks settled throughout the country. The dispersal of birds occurred in waves. Especially intensively storks began to develop new territories in 1980-1990. At the moment, storks settle throughout the territory of our country, except perhaps for the cities of the north. In Ukraine, the habitat of storks covers the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Crimea and Feodosia. In Turkmenistan, this species is widely distributed in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. Zoologists also noticed a nesting center in southern Africa.
Storks are migratory birds. They spend the summer in their usual places, and in the autumn the birds go for wintering to warmer countries. Basically, the European subspecies winters in the savannas from the Sahara to Cameroon. Most often, wintering storks nest near Lake Chad, along the Senegal and Niger rivers. Storks living in the eastern part spend the winter in Africa, on the Somali Peninsula in Ethiopia and Sudan. Also, these birds are found in India, Thailand. The western subspecies winters in Spain, Portugal, Armenia. Storks living in our country most often winter in Dagestan, Armenia, however, birds ringed in our country have also been seen in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Africa.
During migrations, storks do not like to fly above the sea. For flights, they try to choose land routes. For life and nesting, storks, as typical inhabitants of open landscapes, choose places with wet biotypes. Storks settle in meadows, pastures, watered fields. Sometimes found in savannas and steppes.
Now you know where the white stork lives. Let's see what he eats.
What do white storks eat?
The diet of storks is extremely varied.
- locusts, grasshoppers;
- various arthropods;
- crayfish and fish;
- frogs and snakes.
Fun fact: Storks can eat poisonous and dangerous snakes without harming their health.
Sometimes storks can also eat small animals such as mice and small rabbits. Storks are birds of prey, the size of the prey depends only on the ability to swallow it. Storks do not break open and cannot chew their prey. They swallow it whole. Near a reservoir, storks like to rinse their prey in water before eating, so it is much easier to swallow it. Similarly, storks wash frogs dried in mud and sand. Storks regurgitate undigested parts of food in the form of toadstools. Such grebes form over several days, and they consist of wool, insect remains and fish scales.
Storks hunt near their nest in meadows, pastures, swamps. Storks are large birds and a captive bird needs up to 300 grams of food in summer and 500 grams of food in winter for normal life. In the wild, birds consume more food, as hunting and long flights are quite energy intensive. Storks eat almost all the time. On average, a pair of storks with two chicks consumes about 5,000 kJ of energy from food per day. Particularly beneficial and convenient food for storks are small rodents and other vertebrates.
Depending on the season and habitat, the bird's diet may vary. In some places birds eat more locusts and winged insects, in other places the diet may consist of mice and amphibians. During climate change, storks do not experience food shortages and quickly find food in a new place.
Character and lifestyle features
Storks are calm birds. During the non-breeding period, they live in flocks. Birds that do not breed also stay in flocks. Sexually mature individuals form pairs. During the nesting period, pairs of male and female are formed, these pairs persist for a long time. Storks make large, massive nests and may sometimes return to them after hibernation. Often storks settle near human dwellings. Trying to get closer to the water. Birds build their nests on man-made structures. On houses and sheds, towers. Sometimes they can arrange a nest on a tall tree with a sawn or broken crown. Birds winter in warm countries.
Most of the time, storks search for food in order to feed themselves and their offspring. Storks are active during the daytime, at night they sleep more often. Although it happens that storks feed their cubs at night. During the hunt, the bird slowly walks through the grass and shallow water, periodically slowing down its pace, and can make sharp throws. Sometimes birds can watch their prey. They can catch insects, dragonflies and midges on the fly, but mostly they find food on the ground, in the water. Storks are good at catching fish with their beak.
On average, during the hunt, storks move at a speed of about 2 km/h. Storks find their prey visually. Sometimes these birds can eat both dead small animals and fish. Storks can be found even in landfills along with gulls and crows. These birds can feed both alone and in whole flocks. Often in places where birds hibernate, in areas rich in various food, you can find clusters of storks, in which there are up to several tens of thousands of individuals. When birds feed in flocks, they feel more secure and can find more food for themselves.
Social Structure and Reproduction
White storks are capable of breeding at the age of 3-7 years. But still, most of these birds breed at the age of 7 years. These birds are monogamous, pairs are created for the nesting period. Usually in the spring, the male arrives first in the nest, or suits him. A pair is formed on the nest. If other storks approach the nest, the male begins to drive them away by cracking his beak, throwing his head back and fluffing his feathers. When approaching the female's nest, the stork greets her. If a male approaches the nest, the owner of the nest drives him away, or the bird can sit on its nest with its wings spread to the sides, closing its house from uninvited guests.
Interesting fact: Before creating a family, storks perform real mating dances by circling, making different sounds and flapping their wings.
The stork's nest is a rather large building made of branches, hay plants and manure. Place masonry lined up with soft moss, grass and wool. The bird's nest has been built for many years, and often they are engaged in their superstructure. Usually the first female, who has flown into the nest, becomes her mistress. However, fighting between females is a common occurrence. Several females may fly into one nest, a struggle may begin between them and the one that will win and be able to stay in the nest and become a mother.
Oviposition takes place in the spring. Usually at the end of March — April depending on the climate. The female lays eggs at intervals of several days. The female lays 1 to 7 eggs. The couple incubates the eggs together. The incubation period lasts about 34 days. Chicks are born completely helpless. First, their parents feed them earthworms. Chicks catch them, or collect fallen food from the bottom of the nest. Parents closely guard their chicks and protect their nest from attack.
Chicks begin to slowly take off at the age of 56 days after hatching from the egg. Young storks learn to fly under the supervision of their parents. For a few more weeks, parents feed their grown cubs. At the age of about 2.5 months, the chicks become independent. At the end of summer, young birds fly away for the winter on their own without parents.
An interesting fact: Storks are very kind to their offspring, but they can throw weak and sick chicks out of the nest.
Natural enemies of white storks
These birds have few natural enemies.
For adult birds, the following are considered enemies:
- Eagles, and some other birds of prey;
- large dogs and wolves.
Stork nests can be destroyed by large birds, cats and martens. Of the diseases in storks, parasitic diseases are mainly found.
Storks become infected with such types of helminths as:
- chaunocephalus ferox;
- histriorchis tricolor;
- dyctimetra discoidea.
Birds become infected by eating infected fish and animals, picking up food from the ground. However, man is considered the main enemy of these beautiful white birds. After all, most birds die due to falling on power lines. Birds die from electric shock, juveniles sometimes break on wires. In addition, although hunting for birds of this species is now limited, many birds die at the hands of poachers. Most of the birds die while migrating. Most often, young animals die, birds flying for the first time for wintering.
Sometimes, especially during wintering, there is a mass death of birds due to weather conditions. Storms, typhoons and a cold snap can kill several hundred birds at once. The main adverse factor for storks is the destruction of buildings on which birds nested. Restoration of dilapidated temples, water towers and other places where storks nest. Birds build their nests for a very long time. Building a nest takes several years, which means that storks will not be able to breed when they arrive at their usual place.
Population and species status
The population of white storks is growing and this species does not cause any particular concern. There are currently 150,000 breeding pairs worldwide. Storks quickly settle and increase their habitat. Recently, the species White stork is listed in Appendix 2 to the Red Book of Russia as a species in need of special attention to their condition in the natural environment. This species has the status of a non-threatening species.
Hunting for storks is not prohibited in most countries. To support these birds and to rehabilitate birds in trouble on the territory of our country, there are currently rehabilitation centers such as the shelter & # 171; Birds without Borders & # 187;, the Center & # 171; Romashka & # 187; located in the Tver region, the rehabilitation center «Phoenix». Birds that have received serious injuries and other health problems are rehabilitated in such centers.
In order to maintain the population of this species, it is recommended not to destroy the nests and the buildings on which they are built. Be more careful with these birds, and with all wildlife. Let's not forget that the main harm to birds and all living things on our planet is brought by man, constantly destroying the environment. By building roads, harmful industries, cutting down forests and destroying the habitual habitats of these birds. Let's take care of these beautiful birds and wait for them every spring.
The white stork is a truly amazing bird, it is difficult to find more family creatures in the animal world than storks. These birds are distinguished by a special mutual assistance. The mere fact that storks build and improve their homes for years, and the fact that parents replace each other, supporting in caring for chicks, speaks of the high social organization of these birds. If a stork has settled near your house, know that it is fortunate.