Stork facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsStorks
Storks are a family of birds (Ciconiidae). They usually live near shallow bodies of water where they wade through the water, and catch small animals, like frogs, crabs, or small fish. Many species of stork are migratory, they spend the summer and the winter in different places.
Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves energy. Soaring requires thermal air currents.
Storks are large to very large waterbirds.
The bills of the storks are large to very large. The shape of the bills is linked to the diet of the different species.
Storks capable of making some sounds, although they do not do so often. They often clatter their beaks as a means of communication.
Distribution and habitat
Storks are absent from the poles, most of North America and large parts of Australia. They are mainly in tropical Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, with eight and six breeding species respectively. Just three species are present in the New World: wood stork, maguari stork and jabiru, which is the tallest flying bird of the Americas. Two species, white and black stork, reach Europe and western temperate Asia, while one species, Oriental stork, reaches temperate areas of eastern Asia, and one species, black-necked stork, is found in Australasia.
Storks are more diverse and common in the tropics where there are temperate climatesand plenty of water. Less typical habitats include the dense temperate forests used by European black storks, or the rainforest habitat sought by Storm's stork in South East Asia.
Temperate species like the white stork, black stork and Oriental stork undertake long annual migrations in the winter. The routes taken by these species have developed to avoid long distance travel across water, and from Europe this usually means flying across the Straits of Gibraltar or east across the Bosphorus and through Israel and the Sinai.
Many species that aren't regular migrants will still make smaller movements if circumstances require it; others may migrate over part of their range. This can also include regular commutes from nesting sites to feeding areas. Wood storks have been observed feeding 130 km (81 mi) from their breeding colony.
Feeding and diet
The storks are carnivorous, taking a range of reptiles, small mammals, insects, fish, amphibians and other small invertebrates. Any plant material consumed is usually by accident.
Openbills are specialists in freshwater molluscs, particularly apple snails. They feed in small groups, sometimes African openbills ride on the backs of hippos while foraging. Having caught a snail it will return to land or at least to the shallows to eat it.
Many of the species breed in colonies with other waterbirds, which can include other species of storks, herons and egrets, pelicans, cormorants and ibises. White storks, Oriental storks and Maguari storks breed in nests that are within visual range of others of the same species, but have little to do with one another. They also may nest alone.
The Stork has many stories surrounding it, like in Aesop's (6th century BCE) fables The Farmer and the Stork and The Fox and the Stork.
The first fable begins with a farmer plowing his fields, sowing his seeds and spreading his nets, these nets caught several cranes who hopped behind him picking up the seed. Along with the cranes tangled in his net the farmer discovered a stork with a broken leg. The stork begged the farmer to spare his life, arguing that he was not a crane, but a stork. He pointed to his feathers and told the farmer that they didn’t resemble a crane’s feathers in the least. The farmer laughed at the stork and said, “I have taken you with these robbers, the cranes, and you must die in their company.”
A common legend is that storks deliver babies to their mothers.
There are nineteen species of stork. They include:
Stork Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.