Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

Black Stork

[order] CICONIIFORMES | [family] Ciconiidae | [latin] Ciconia nigra | [authority] Linnaeus, 1758 | [UK] Black Stork | [FR] Cigogne noire | [DE] Schwarzstorch | [ES] Ciguena Negra | [NL] Zwarte Ooievaar


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Ciconia nigra AF, EU widespread


Storks are rather well represented in the world fossil record, although no comprehensive review of them has been attempted. The earliest records come from the Late Eocene of Egypt. After taxa incorrectly referred to this family were removed, the earliest named species became Palaeoephippiorhynchus dietrichi Lambrecht, 1930 (Late Oligocene; Egypt). The stork family (Ciconiidae) includes 17-19 species, depending upon which classification is followed. They are widely distributed, mainly in the Old World Tropics. Being large, conspicuous, and easily observed, storks are well known birds throughout their range. Several populations are threatened or endangered. The seven species of “typical” storks of the genus ciconia are all somewhat similar, with mainly black-and-white plumage and straight bills.

Physical charateristics

The Black Stork Ciconia nigra is a large waterbird, in adult plumage glossy black in colour, with white underparts and red bill and legs. Non-breeding adult has plumage and bare parts duller. Juvenile all dingy brown with dull green bare parts.

Listen to the sound of Black Stork

[audio: Stork.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Tomas Belka

wingspan min.: 173 cm wingspan max.: 205 cm
size min.: 90 cm size max.: 105 cm
incubation min.: 35 days incubation max.: 36 days
fledging min.: 63 days fledging max.: 36 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Africa, Eurasia : widespread


Found in variety of wetland sites: swamps, margins of rivers and lakes, lagoons, alkaline lakes and marine mudflats.
Not usually in extensive open areas.It breeds in
lowland moist forests by open waters, streams, pools
or banks of rivers and lakes and it also breeds in
mountainous regions. It usually nests in trees and
sometimes rock outcrops (and caves) and it prefers to
nest in areas not subject to human disturbance.


Starts towards spring in Palearctic. N in Africa mostly in cool dry season.
Solitary nester, in forest trees. Large stick nest, lined with moss, grass and leaves, cemented together with earth.
3-4 eggs, incubation 32-38 days. chicks have white down.
Sexual maturity at 3 year old.

Feeding habits

Fish, frogs also amphibia, insects, snails, crabs and small reptiles, mammals and birds.
Usually forages in shallow water, catching prey with a sharp stab of bill.

Video Black Stork


copyright: youtube


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend is not known, but the population is not believed to be decreasing sufficiently rapidly to approach the thresholds under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
This stork inhabits a large part of Eurasia and also South Africa. Some birds of Southern Europe are sedentary, but most European populations winter in Sub-Saharan Africa. The total population of the European Union amounts to 400-470 breeding pairs. It has undergone a dramatic decrease between 1850 and 1950, and the species has disappeared from many regions. Since 1970 an increase has been noticed in several countries, and some regions of Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg have been colonised again. The population of the European Union represents only 4% of the total European population, however, and the global trends are unknown.
Black Stork status Least Concern


Migratory; partially resident population in Spain; S African birds disperse after breeding with local, mostly altitudinal movements. W Palearctic birds mostly skirt Mediterranean, though less so than C.coconia, because more capable of sustained flapping flight; few, if any, cross equator. Migration to and from Europe peaks in Mar/Apr and Sept, C. 2 weeks later than C.ciconia. Migration spread fairly evenly throughout day. In India mostly in small groups, often associating with C.episcopus. Reported foraging almost 10 km from nest in Poland.

Distribution map

Black Stork distribution range map

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