20 Interesting Facts About Storks

  1. Storks are wading birds with long legs, necks, and beaks. Their closest relatives are similar-looking wading birds, such as flamingos, ibises, and herons.
  2. Storks have around 20 species, present in all continents except Antarctica. However, most species are in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Their habitat includes rivers, lakes, marshes, wetlands, and tropical forests.
  3. Storks are usually large, but their size differs according to the species. Hammerkop is the smallest stork, two feet in height. Marabou stork is the tallest, reaching up to 5 feet.
  4. Storks are diurnal and carnivore birds. Most species eat small aquatic and land animals such as fish, frogs, rats, mice, insects, etc. Some species also feed on carrion.
  5. Storks are almost completely voiceless due to undeveloped syrinx (a vocal organ in birds). The only sound they produce is clattering their bills loudly under excitement.
  6. The flight of storks inspired the invention of aviation in the late 19th Century. Two German brothers invented the weight-shift hand glider after observing flights of this wading bird. One of these brothers, Otto Lilienthal, started making glides from a hill in 1891 and completed 2,000 fights in five years. Comparatively, the Wright Brothers achieved the first airplane flight in 1903. (Source)
  7. There are two main types of storks due to their distinct features. Typical storks have straight bills, while six members of wood storks (also known as wood ibises) have curved bills, similar to ibises. 
    A yellow-billed stork in water
    Storks have various colors and types of bills

  8. Storks build their nests in trees, rock ledges, or on buildings using sticks and grasses. These nests are large and can be as deep as 9 feet. A pair may use a single nest for years.
  9. Monk parakeets build their nests near or inside storks’ nests. It enables them to take advantage of the aggressive defense of storks against hawks and other predators. Researchers have observed this behavior of parrots in their native (Brazil) and non-native (Spain) locations. (Source)
  10. A female stork may lay two to five eggs in a clutch. Both parents incubate eggs and guard the nest for nearly two months until the chicks leave to start their individual lives.
  11. Some stork species are monogamous. However, they can change their mates after migrations and may migrate without their mates.
  12. A male stork named Klepetan has been returning from Africa to Croatia every year in spring for the last 16 years after covering a distance of over 13,000 km. The purpose of the arrival of this bird at the same place is to meet the female stork (Malena) because she is injured and can’t fly. The love story of two birds is famous all over Croatia. (Source)
  13. Male storks are slightly larger than females and have longer and heavier bills. Size is the only visible difference between the two genders.
  14. Various species of storks can live for 30 to 40 years in their natural habitat. Their lifespan increases in captivity.
  15. Open-billed storks have bills especially designed to eat water snails. There is a wide gap when they close their mandibles. However, they can hold snails through the enclosed bill at the tip.
  16. In 2022, scientists discovered fossils of colossal flying storks living alongside hobbit-size humans in eastern Indonesia 60,000 years ago. These and other historic flying storks were scavengers of herbivore animals. The disappearance of their main food source, a close relative of elephants, caused the extinction of these birds. (Source)
  17. The myth of storks delivering human babies is present in the folklore of Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and North Africa. Historians believe that this myth originated centuries ago in Germany and Norway
  18. According to a recent report, many storks have abandoned their migration from Europe to Africa due to climate change. The adult storks stay in Spain during winter and get their food (worms, insects, and rodents) from garbage. (Source)
  19. Storks have very few predators due to their large size. However, several birds, raccoons, and skunks can steal eggs from their nest.
  20. Storks sometimes kill their smallest and weakest chick in larger broods with four or more chicks. The reason for this infanticide behavior is to increase the chances of survival for other chicks.

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