Storks are large, long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long stout bills, belonging to the family Ciconiidae. They occur in most of the warmer regions of the world and tend to live in drier habitats than the related herons, spoonbills and ibises; they also lack the powder down that those groups use to clean off fish slime. Storks have no syrinx and are mute, giving no bird call; bill-clattering is an important mode of stork communication at the nest. Many species are migratory. Most storks eat frogs, fish, insects, earthworms, and small birds or mammals. There are 19 living species of storks in six genera.
Storks tend to use soaring, gliding flight, which conserves
energy. Soaring requires thermal air currents. Ottomar
Anschütz's famous 1884 album of photographs of storks inspired
the design of Otto Lilienthal's experimental gliders of the late
19th century. Storks are heavy with wide wingspans, and the
Marabou Stork, with a wingspan of 3.2 m (10.5 feet), shares the
distinction of "longest wingspan of any land bird" with the
Their nests are often very large and may be used for many years. Some have been known to grow to over 2 m (6 feet) in diameter and about 3 m (10 feet) in depth. Storks were once thought to be monogamous, but this is only true to a limited extent. They may change mates after migrations, and migrate without them. They tend to be attached to nests as much as partners.
Storks' size, serial monogamy, and faithfulness to an established nesting site contribute to their prominence in mythology and culture.
The modern English word comes from Old English "storc", which is
in turn related to "stark", probably in reference to the stiff
or rigid posture of a European species, the White Stork.
Originally from Proto Germanic *sturkaz (compare Old Norse storkr, and Old High German storh, all meaning stork). Nearly every Germanic language has a form of this proto language to indicate the stork; in some languages cognate words are used that apparently originate in a euphemism and may signify the presence of a deep-seated taboo: compare "bear".
This Stork Page is Copyright The Animal Web Guide © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub