The stork is a large bird, externally spectacular, and many fashion brands use it in their collections of clothes and accessories. But if on the dresses and handbags of these birds you can often see, in reality, certain types of storks are even listed in the Red Book. The number of black storks (Ciconia nigra) and Far Eastern (Ciconia boyciana) is also rapidly decreasing.
The family of storks consists of 17 species and 9 genera, the birds are distinguished by a long graceful neck, a large body, long non-feathered legs with a swimming membrane and a sharp beak. Different types of these birds differ from each other in appearance. What do storks eat, where do they live, how do they raise offspring? What are the main types of these birds still have the opportunity to meet? You will find answers to all these questions in the article.
The Latin name is Ciconia ciconia. This species can be recognized by the snow-white plumage and black tips of the wings. Due to the contrasting color (the legs and beak of the bird are bright red), the white stork has become a muse for many Asian artists, its image can often be found in Chinese and Japanese painting along with the images of cranes. An adult bird weighs an average of 4 kg, females - slightly less. The wings of a white stork reach 60 centimeters in length. Attempts were made to cross the white stork with the black one, but nothing came of it, since their marriage rituals were too different. White storks are monogamous.
The Latin name is Ciconia nigra. Representatives of this species are slightly inferior to white storks in size: they weigh an average of 3 kg, and their wings do not exceed 55 centimeters in length. The color of the bird is usually not pure black, but with a greenish or red tint. The beak, limbs, throat and skin around the eyes are painted red. The abdomen of a black stork, the photo of which is presented to your attention below, is white. A characteristic feature of black storks is monogamy: they choose a partner for life.
The Latin name is Jabiru mycteria. This is a large bird with a wingspan of up to 2.5 meters. The tip of the stork's long beak has a small bend upward. The body of the Brazilian yabiru is colored white, and the head, neck and beak are blue-black. Females differ from males in yellow eyes. The neck of the stork, the photo of which you can see below, has a red-orange shade at the base.
The Latin name is Leptoptilos. This is the common name of the genus, it includes the Javanese, African, Indian Marabou. Like the Brazilian yabiru, these storks are large, with a large head and a massive beak. Even adult birds are more like ugly ducklings than beautiful swans. Wings in length reach 70 centimeters, birds weigh about 5 kg. Marabou has an unofficial name - "adjutant", received by him for walking, like in the military. There is no plumage on the head of the bird, as well as on the peculiar neck projection, which helps to hold the heavy beak. The tail, back and wings are painted dark gray or black.
Far East Stork
The Latin name is Ciconia boyciana. It belongs to endangered species, in Russia the number of these birds does not exceed three thousand. Birds, like black and white storks, are monogamous. Superficially resemble white storks, but more massive, and their beak is painted black. It has other names: Chinese, black-billed stork. The area of skin around the eyes of Far Eastern storks is colored red. The extermination of individuals of this species entails not only a fine, but also imprisonment.
The main tool for stork hunting is the beak. What do storks eat? The basis of the diet is animal food: from small insects, mollusks, pests and amphibians to small mammals. You can often see a stork eating snakes and frogs. The stork, which is described to your attention in the article, is capable of catching a small bird, mouse, hare or gopher. Usually storks are slow, but they can also pursue especially interesting prey. It is not uncommon for these birds to overcome large (5–10 km) distances from the nesting site to get enough food for the chicks.
The stork swallows food whole, capable of bringing large quantities to its children. The structure of these birds also allows water to be brought in the beak. While hunting, the stork is easily able to disguise itself to the surrounding vegetation, maintains stillness, or walks very slowly. These birds almost do not emit sounds, so do not attract the attention of prey. Sometimes for dinner the stork can pick eggs from other birds.
What storks eat, we already know. And I wonder how much? After all, the bird is huge, and as you already know, food can be swallowed whole. For normal functioning, the body of an adult stork needs an average of 700 grams of food per day. Storks are excellent hunters, there are cases when they caught up to 50 mice in one hour.
How long do storks live? In perfect artificial conditions, birds can live for more than a quarter of a century. And how many storks live in natural conditions? A rare individual lives to 15 years. The long-term stork life is hindered by such factors as ecological situation, natural selection, diseases, lack of food, damage caused by man and predators. Sometimes representatives of this family themselves shorten the lifespan of their brethren, pecking sick birds. It has been observed that storks live the longest in places where energy is positive, where there are no people swearing around, where peace and tranquility reign.
Wintering places for storks
The stork is a migratory bird, except for South African birds that live in the same place without flying anywhere. They are looking for a place for wintering, where there will be enough heat and plenty of food. Old and young storks are sent for wintering to warm regions separately. As a rule, this occurs between the end of August and October. The flight takes place in the daytime, the birds fly high, the directions for European and Eastern storks are different.
Birds, whose habitats are located west of the Elbe, are sent to the Iberian Peninsula, then move towards Africa through Gibraltar. As a result, birds winter in the west of Africa, in the area between the Sahara desert and the tropics. European storks and birds from the Iberian Peninsula, and from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria, winter here.
Birds, nesting sites which are located east of the Elbe, are sent for wintering in the extended territory between Sudan and South Africa. They fly first to the Bosphorus, then cross the lands of Asia Minor and Palestine, fly over the Nile River before they reach the destination point. Part of the pack may remain in Southern Arabia, some choose Ethiopia for wintering, the rest continue their long journey, some reach India.
Wintering locations for storks differ, depending on the species: whites live through the winter in Africa, Pakistan, India, Kore, on the Japanese islands. Black - south of the Sahara, in the Ganges River Basin, in south-eastern China.
Most often, there are more eggs in the clutch than chicks hatch: some eggs remain unfertilized. Hatching lasts from 30 to 46 days.
Little hawks have vision, but are otherwise helpless for the first 70 days of life. Nestlings are white and fluffy, after hatching, lie for about 10 days, and the first 7 weeks stay in the place of birth without a nest. Even after the chick has learned to fly, parents help him in search of food for 2-3 weeks.
While the stork chicks are in the nest, their weight may exceed the weight of the parents, but gradually their food is limited. Storks, weak chicks, are thrown out of the nest, leaving only those who can fight for life. Sexual maturity comes at the age of three years, birds begin to nest later - at 6 years.
What determines the habitat of storks? A bird, in order to find food suitable for it, often settles in swamps, damp meadows and reservoirs with stagnant water. Climate for storks preferred tropical, temperate or hot. Marabou build nests in the trees, black storks prefer forests, white - lowlands, yabiru - marshlands.
White storks live in Europe, in North-West Africa, in Small and Central Asia, in the Amur region and Primorye, on the Japanese islands. Black storks inhabit the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula, in the south to the Persian Gulf, in the north - to St. Petersburg, Tomsk. For the black stork, the preferred places for nesting are those where there are old woodlands, impassable swamps. This bird does not like side by side with people.
The nests of these birds occupy a lot of space: their diameter reaches 2 meters, and the weight - more than 200 kg. Most often, birds choose rooftops or trees, but there are also unexpected places where stork nests, such as a lamppost, were found. Earlier, when the roofs of human dwellings were often thatched, storks settled there. Currently, their nests can be found on water towers, haystacks.
Materials for the construction of the nest: branches, branches, straw, grass, rags, wool, paper. The nest holds adult parents and up to 7 eggs. Often storks settle in places where there are already dwellings of their relatives. As a rule, storks live in the same nest for years, build it very carefully, and repair it as necessary.
Legends and interesting facts about storks
What storks eat, where they live, what species are common - you already know this. In conclusion, I would like to tell some legends and interesting facts about these incomparable birds. Storks in many countries are sacred, for example, in Japan it is forbidden to hunt them. In ancient Greece, it was customary to kneel at the sight of the first stork. There are many legends about storks, which cannot be said about any sparrow.
The most mysterious species can be called black storks: they prefer to live as far as possible from people.
- A curious legend explains the red color of the nose and legs of storks. Once, this legend says, God handed a man a bag full of snakes, hedgehogs and other reptiles. The person had to get rid of them: burn, throw into the sea, bury or just leave untouched, but disobeyed. The bag was unleashed out of curiosity, and the rebellious man - punished for life conversion into a bird-eater of various evil spirits. Former man was ashamed of his deed, because storks still have a red nose and limbs to this day.
- Ukrainian legend: a stork was once nestled on a house with two babies. There was a fire, but the owners were not at home, then the storks carried the children out of the fire, slightly singing the tips of the wings. Since then, all storks have been black, and their beak and legs are red.
- Marabou is a predator and scavenger, so not all members of the stork family feed on frogs and beetles,
- storks are not inclined to change their nest often, there are cases when several families of birds have lived in the same nest for more than 300 years,
- stork males are not particularly picky: they pair up with the female who first visits them in the house (nest),
- not only females but also males of storks incubate eggs,
- the ancient Romans believed that stork chicks, growing up, fed their parents, but this is not so
- During the flight, storks may fall asleep for a short time in order to recuperate while continuing to move.
Signs associated with storks:
- German omen: if a girl meets two storks with the onset of spring, this year will bring her marriage, if one - until she remains unmarried,
- omen from Morocco: storks were considered people from a distant island, able to turn into birds and back,
- Moldovans consider this bird a symbol of winemaking and grape growing,
- in Turkey, it was believed that the house where storks built their nest is protected from fire and lightning,
- Polish superstition says that storks are spinning in the sky for a reason, and driving clouds away,
- Armenians consider storks as patrons of agriculture.
Where do storks live
The white stork settles across all Europe and Asia. This is a fairly large area. In recent years, the area has shifted to the east.
In winter, a white stork flies to Africa or India. Populations living in Africa and Western Europe do not fly away for wintering, since winters in these areas are warm.
In the field of wintering birds gather in numerous flocks, consisting of thousands of individuals. Young birds can stay in Africa for the whole winter hut. The flight falls on the daylight hours. They fly at a considerable height, while soaring. For this, they are comfortable in aerodynamically comfortable areas. Birds avoid routes over the sea.
Ornithologists have a special interest not in the habitat of the white stork, but in choosing a place for its nest. As early as the 19th century, an amazing feature of these birds was noticed - before building a nest, the stork watches people for a long time.
In connection with this peculiarity, even a belief was born that if a stork nest appeared in the village, it would bring prosperity and happiness to the inhabitants. There are cases when the nests were found even on the roofs of multi-storey buildings. People who find such a home do not get upset, but, on the contrary, rejoice. Sometimes they even specially prepare sheds so that the bird can live on their roof.
Life in the wild
White stork most of the time is in flight. And more often he uses energy profitable way of flying - soaring. Having found suitable places for this, the stork can fly many kilometers without flapping its wings. On the day of the birds fly 200-250 km.
During the flight the bird can even take a nap. Scientists have made such a conclusion from the data on the weakening of the pulse and respiration of birds. At the same time, hearing is sharpened so that the bird can hear in which direction the flock is flying.
Birds fly to wintering in numerous flocks. At this time, they switch to food by insects, preferring locusts. In Africa, they are called "locust birds."
Scientists use ringing to observe storks. Recently used satellite surveillance. This method involves the supply of birds with transmitters transmitting signals to the satellite. Thanks to this method, scientists study the peculiarities of bird life, what the stork eats, how other interesting moments reproduce.
What does a stork eat in nature
The white stork feeds on small vertebrates and invertebrates. They feed on frogs, vipers, grasshoppers, eat beetles, earthworms, small fish, lizards. The movement of birds while searching for food is unhurried. But as soon as they notice the prey, they promptly run up to it and seize it. They carry water to the chicks with their beak.
To search for food stork bypasses swamps and lowlands. The structure of his body quite allow him to do it. Legs with long fingers give stability on unsteady wet ground. And the oblong beak allows you to get all sorts of goodies from the depths - mollusks, snails, frogs.
They can even collect dead fish, do not mind to eat also:
Of course, it’s not so easy to catch moving animals.
Winged wing hunt in shallow water, they do not like to go into deep water. They can feed on the ground, prefer freshly cut grass, where they catch small insects. In Africa, storks gather where people burned grass. In such places you can see hundreds of birds. They also fly to the fields and collect the larvae there.
Storks can expect prey for a long time. For example, he may hide near a rodent's hole and wait for him to stick out his nose. The time of such a fade does not exceed a few minutes.
In muddy water, the bird hunts at random, not seeing its prey. She opens and closes her beak in the water until she gets some tadpole. A bird can catch food on the fly by capturing a dragonfly or other insects. In captivity, birds catch food like dogs on the fly.
Stork destroys dangerous insects: bug-bug, goose-beetle, beet weevil. He helps farmers eliminate the bearfish - it is a harmful insect that all farmers know about.
In the years of outbreaks of mice and rats, storks actively eat these rodents, providing significant assistance to humans.
One stork needs 700 grams of food per day. When feeding the offspring, this volume greatly increases, and adult individuals have to spend all day searching for food.
White Stork - Monogamous Bird. He creates a pair and breeding nest. Previously, nests were built only on trees not far from human dwellings. Birds built them from branches. Later they began to settle on the roofs of houses. People are not upset by this neighborhood, but only happy.
In recent years, storks have built nests on the pipes of factories and even on power lines. One nest is being built for several years. Over the years, it is gaining more and more size. It happens that after the death of adults, the nest goes to the offspring.
Nesting storks begin at the age of about six years. This is not surprising, because a bird lives about 20 years.
Males arrive first to the nesting site.. In Russia, this is the beginning of April. First, the first female appears, then the second, between them the struggle for the right to become a mother flares up. Конечно, ни одной не хочется остаться старой девой и прожить всю жизнь в одиночестве. Ведь пару аистов только смерть может разлучить. Самец не вмешивается в борьбу женских особей. Победительницу он зовёт к себе в гнездо, издавая особые звуки. Если к гнезду подлетает другой самец, хозяин его безжалостно прогоняет, ударяя клювом.
Самка приносит от 2 до 5 яиц, реже от 1 до 7. Оба родителя их высиживают. Обычно днём это самец, а ночью самка. The process takes 33 days. Small chicks have vision, but are absolutely helpless.
Parents feed the kids with earthwormsby giving them out of their beak. Nestlings catch worms on the fly or collect on a nest. Growing up, they pick up food from the beak of adults. Parents monitor offspring, sick and weak are thrown out of the nest. Chicks may die, and because of a lack of food.
After 55 days, the chicks begin to take off. Parents watch their first attempts, feeding them for another 18 days. Young individuals spend nights in parental nests, and during the day they learn to fly.
After 70 days, young people become independent and fly away to winter. Adults fly later - in September.
The white stork, meeting a couple, begins to loudly click the beak. In this case, the bird throws back his head for the formation of a resonating space, reinforcing sounds. Thus, storks communicate.
In relation to the relatives of the bird behaves aggressively. Weak individuals can even be beaten to death.
The number of storks in the western regions is rapidly declining. This is due to a decrease in the amount of feed., increasing the chemicalization of nature, leading to the death of birds and the violation of the reproductive regime. In Russia, the number of birds, on the contrary, is increasing.
Around the world there are about 150 thousand pairs of white storks, the third part of them lives in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Interesting legends associated with the bird. Stork has long been considered the protector of the satanic forces. There is a legend explaining the origin of the bird. According to her, God, seeing the danger of snakes, decided to destroy them. He collected all the reptiles into a bag and asked the person to throw the bag into the sea or into the mountains. But out of curiosity, the man opened the bag and freed the creeping ones. As a punishment, the Creator turned a man into a stork and made him collect snakes throughout his life.
There is also a fairy tale "Kalif-stork", where a man turned into this beautiful bird.
Where does the white stork live?
The habitat of these birds is quite large - this is all of Europe and Asia. In Europe, the territory where the stork lives stretches from southern Sweden in the north to Bryansk, Smolensk, Lipetsk in the east. It should be noted that in recent years, the range has expanded significantly in the east. White stork winters in tropical Africa, India. The population that lives in the southern regions of the African continent is sedentary. These white birds living in Western Europe, where the winters are quite warm, do not fly away for wintering either.
Many feathery fans make wonderful photos: a white stork flies for the winter. Their path can run two routes. Flocks that inhabit the west of the Elbe River fly over the Strait of Gibraltar. They remain to winter between the Sahara and the rainforests of Africa.
Storks, which nest to the east of the Elbe, cross Asia Minor and Israel and winter in East Africa between Sudan and South Africa.
In all places of wintering, these beautiful birds gather in thousands of flocks. Immature juveniles sometimes remain in Africa for the entire wintering period. Fly storks do only in the daytime. They fly at a very high altitude, often hover. For this, they choose aerodynamically comfortable areas. Storks avoid flying over the sea.
Nevertheless, the researchers are not particularly interested in the place where the white stork dwells from the point of view of continents and borders, but its choice of a specific place for building a nest.
In the XIX century, a scientist from Germany, Alfred Brem noticed a unique feature of these birds - long before the construction of the nest, the white stork watches people for quite a long time.
Perhaps that is why if a stork nest appeared in a village yard, it was believed that this would entail wealth, health and well-being. This is amazing, but there are cases when these birds flew even to the high-rise balconies.
Lifestyle in the wild
Today, feathered lovers can see their photos in numerous magazines. The white stork, the description with a photo of which is published by various publications, is interesting not only for amateurs, but also for professional researchers.
Like most large birds, the stork prefers soaring flight - it is an energy-efficient way to travel. He is able to fly many kilometers without flapping his wings when he finds suitable air currents.
The speed of storks on the flight reaches 200-250 km per day. Birds fly in flocks, forming many thousands of clusters in wintering grounds. During migration, quite often they switch completely to food by insects, giving particular preference to large locusts. For this in Africa they are called "locust birds."
Ringing has been used to observe the migration of these birds for many years, although in recent years new methods of observation have appeared. The most informative of them (but at the same time the most difficult and expensive) is satellite tracking. For this, the white stork receives a special “equipment” - a small transmitter that constantly transmits signals to the satellite.
The main ration of these birds are small vertebrates and invertebrates. They are not averse to feast on frogs, toads, snakes, vipers and large grasshoppers. With no less pleasure they eat May beetles, earthworms, small fish, and lizards.
Looking for food, these birds move slowly and importantly. But once they notice the prey, they instantly run up and grab it. Careful parents carry water for their chicks in their beak.
Feeding the chicks
Probably, you had to see a photo - a white stork feeds chicks. This is a very fascinating sight. At first, the parents feed the babies with earthworms from their beak. Chicks surprisingly cleverly catch them on the fly or collect in the nest, if you could not catch. When they get a little older, they try to snatch food from their parents beak.
Adult storks very carefully observe their offspring, if necessary, they throw out sick and weak chicks from the nest. Young storks fly for the first time in 55 days. Initially this happens under the supervision of parents. Another 18 days they are fed adult birds. Young storks spend the night in the nest, and during the day they train in flight skills.
After 70 days, they turn into independent individuals and at the end of August, the “youth” already departs for wintering on their own, driven by instinct. Adult birds hit the road later - in September.
A white stork (adult), when it encounters a pair, loudly clicks its beak. Chicks squeak and scream, these sounds are very reminiscent of the meowing of kittens.
Clicking its beak, the bird tilts its head on its back and draws in its tongue. In this case, a resonating cavity is formed, which amplifies the sound. Clicking with a beak replaced voice communication at a stork.
The number of storks
Despite the fact that people are sympathetic to these majestic birds, in the western parts of the area their numbers are constantly decreasing. Scientists attribute this fact to the intensification of agriculture, the reduction of food supply, the chemicalization of the environment, which leads to poisoning, malfunction of the reproductive cycle and the death of birds.
Nevertheless, the number of storks in our country is growing every year. Today, there are about 150 thousand pairs of these white beauties in the world, a third of them are breeding in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.