Storks are a family of birds. The white stork is best known to us. Its feathers are white, only the wings are black. The beak and legs are red. Their outstretched wings are two meters wide or even a little more. The white stork is also called the “rattle stork”.
There are also 18 other types of storks. They live on every continent except Antarctica. All are carnivores and have long legs.
How does the white stork live?
White storks can be found almost all over Europe in summer. They give birth to their young here. They are migratory birds. The white storks from Eastern Europe spend the winter in warm Africa. The white storks in western Europe did the same. Today, many of them only fly as far as Spain. This saves them a lot of energy and they also find more food in the garbage dumps than in Africa. Because of climate change, about half of the white storks in Switzerland always stay in the same place. It is now warm enough here so that they can survive the winter well.
White storks eat earthworms, insects, frogs, mice, rats, fish, lizards, and snakes. Sometimes they also eat carrion, which is a dead animal. They stride across meadows and through marshland and then strike at lightning speed with their beaks. The storks have the most problems because there are fewer and fewer swamps where they can find food.
The male returns first from the south and lands in his eyrie from the previous year. That’s what experts call a stork’s nest. His female comes a little later. Stork couples stay true to each other for life. That can be 30 years. Together they expand the nest until it can be heavier than a car, i.e. around two tons.
After mating, the female lays two to seven eggs. Each is about twice the size of a chicken egg. The parents take turns incubating. The young hatch after about 30 days. It’s usually about three. The parents feed them for about nine weeks. Then the boys fly out. They are sexually mature at around four years of age.
There are many stories about the stork. So the stork is supposed to bring the human babies. You lie in a cloth, the stork holds the knot or a rope in its beak. This idea became known through the fairy tale entitled “The Storks” by Hans Christian Andersen. Maybe that’s why storks are considered lucky charms.
What other storks are there?
There is another stork species in Europe, the black stork. This is not as well known and much rarer than the white stork. It lives in forests and is very shy of humans. It is slightly smaller than the white stork and has black plumage.
Many stork species have other colors or are significantly more colorful. The Abdimstork or rain stork is closely related to the European stork. It lives in Africa, just like the marabou. The saddle stork also comes from Africa, the giant stork lives in tropical Asia and Australia. Both are large storks: the beak of the giant stork alone is thirty centimeters long.