Thursday, 13 January 2011

Black stork

Ciconia nigra

(Photo from Bird Banding and Nature)

Common name:

Order Ciconiiformes
Family Ciconiidae

They breed from Japan and north-eastern China, in the far east, along the temperate latitudes of Eurasia all the way to eastern and Central Europe. Asian birds migrate south to southern China, Myanmar and northern India and Pakistan. Central and eastern European birds migrate south to the Sahel and to Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. There are two isolated resident populations, one in Europe, in the Iberian Peninsula, and another in southern Africa, in Angola, Zambia and South Africa.

The black stork is 90-105 cm long and has a wingspan of 173-205 cm. They weigh 2,9-3 kg.

They breed in large marshy wetlands with interspersed coniferous or broad leaf woodlands, but also in hilly or mountainous forested areas with a sufficient network of creeks. In winter they can occupy almost any type of wetland, such as pans, rivers, flood plains, ponds, lagoons, dams, swamp forests, mangrove swamps, estuaries, tidal mudflats and patches of short grass close to water.

They mostly eat fish, amphibians, bird nestlings and tortoises, but also insects and freshwater snails.

Black storks are monogamous, probably forming life-long pair bonds. They nest in April-September, with both sexes building the nest, a fairly flat platform made of dry reeds, sticks and other dry plant matter, with a shallow central bowl lined with grass and other soft material. The nest is typically placed on a cliff ledge or tall tree. The female lays 2-5 eggs which are incubated by both parents for 35-36 days. The chicks fledge 63-71 days after hatching, becoming fully independent 2 weeks later.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
The species has a very large breeding range, but a relatively small population estimated at 24.000-44.000 individuals. The overall population trend is uncertain, as some populations are decreasing, while others are increasing, stable or have unknown trends. Overall the species is not considered threatened at present.

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