White Stork

(Ciconia ciconia)




Facts about this animal

The White stork stands up to 1m, weights 2.3 - 4.4 kg and has a wingspan of up to 2 m. It is long-necked, with bare red legs and a straight pointed red bill. The body is covered by white feathers, except for the black wing feathers. There is no plumage differences in the sexes, the males being only a little larger in size than the females. Juveniles are duller in coloration. The wings are long and broad and suitable for soaring. While flying, their neck is outstretched.


They prey on large insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, small mammals and invertebrates. The White stork is a migratory species and has its wintering grounds in tropical Africa. In August / September the stork flies south, making use of thermals, avoiding large water bodies and forests. There are two distinct migratory routes: the Strait of Gibraltar is used by the western population, the eastern populations cross the Bosporus to fly to Africa. Some populations also fly to India and Iran for the winter season. In March the birds return to their known breeding places in Europe. They breed solitary in loosely colonies.


The large nests are located on high trees or the top of buildings. The nest is made of sticks, grass, mud and is flat on top. The birds are well recognised by the very well known bill-clattering . They throw their necks and heads backwards to great the partner and create an amplifying resonance box in the gular pouch of the lower neck. On average 4 (1-7) eggs are laid and incubated for 33-34 days. The young birds fledge at the age of 58-64 days. When the young are sexually mature at the age of 4 (2-7), they return from Africa to breed in Europe. In captivity the White stork can become up to 35 years of age.

Did you know?
that the legend about the European White Stork bringingbies is believed to have originated in northern Germany, perhaps because storks arrive on their breeding grounds nine months after midsummer. In many European countries storks were encouraged to nest on homes hoping they would bring fertility and prosperity.


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Ciconia ciconia
Name (English) White Stork
Name (French) Cigogne blanche
Name (German) Weissstorch
Name (Spanish) Cigueña blanca
Local names Afrikaans: Wit sprinkaanvoël
Czech: Cáp bílý
Danish: Hvid stork
Dutch: Gewone ooievaar
Estonian: Valge-toonekurg
Finnish: Kattohaikara
Greek: Pelargós
Hungarian: Fehér gólya
Italian: Cicogna bianca
Latvian: Baltais starkis
Polish: Bocian bialy
Portuguese: Cegonha branca
Slovak: Bocian biely
Swedish, Norwegian: Vit stork
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Ciconia c. boyciana: Appendix I Ciconia c. ciconia: Appendix II and included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Mindaugas Urbonas



Range Africa, Asia, Europe
Habitat Grassland, steppe, savannah, marshes, river valleys, farmland, around human habitation
Wild population Approx. 320'000 Ciconia c. boyciana: approx. 2'500 (1994)
Zoo population 1'198 reported to ISIS Ciconia c. boyciana: 99

In the Zoo

White Stork


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Manfred Heyde

Why do zoos keep this animal

The White stork is a very well known bird, facing almost extinction in some European countries. Thanks to conservation efforts, colonies grow and many free-flight birds choose the surrounding of a zoo as their breeding place. The enormous popularity of the bird helps in raising awareness for their needs and zoos contribute to the conservation efforts by providing adequate breeding opportunities.

For the Oriental white stork, which is endangered in the wild, an International Studbook has been established under the umbrella of WAZA, and a coordinated breeding programme is operated at the regional level by JAZA. Zoos participating in this programme also engage in reintroduction projects and other in situ conservation activities.