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Ciconiidae – Storks

African Woolly-necked Stork in Kenya: Photo by Nathan Mixon

Storks are large, long-legged waders found in many regions across the globe, especially in tropical and subtropical areas. With their striking bills and impressive wingspans, they are often seen gliding gracefully on thermals or standing motionless in shallow waters. Storks typically feed on a variety of aquatic prey, including fish, amphibians, and insects, using their strong, often colorful bills to capture their food. Known for their migratory habits, many stork species undertake long journeys between breeding and wintering grounds, showcasing their adaptability and resilience.

Overview of Ciconiidae

Heavy wading birds most diverse in the Old World, storks inhabit a variety of habitats. In sub-Saharan Africa, they frequent open savannas, scavenging at big-game kills or snapping up prey from grassland fires. Elsewhere, they are more closely tied to water. Storks may soar great distances on foraging flights or during migration. Some species feature massive bills complemented by colorful bare skin on their faces or throats. They usually build large stick nests high in trees or on rooftops in Europe. Though associated with childbirth in Western cultures, storks have played significant roles in many mythologies over the millennia.