Storks live on all continents except Antarctica. They are most commonly found in tropical regions near water. There are 17-21 species of stork (depends who you ask). The largest, the Marabou stork, is 4.9 feet tall and has a wingspan of 10.5 feet! They weigh about 20 pounds and live in Asia, India, and Africa. The smallest stork is the Hammerkop, standing 2 feet tall and weighing only a pound, although some don’t consider it part of the stork family.
Storks have long legs, long necks and long beaks. They are wading birds. Stork feathers are usually white, black, gray, brown or some combination, although the painted story also has pink feathers, too. Storks are very graceful when they fly.
Storks prey on fish, amphibians, small reptiles, shellfish, and insects. Some also catch rodents and moles. Others are scavengers. Jabiru (from Australia) and Maguari stork use their pointed bills to jab prey in water or tall grass. Open-billed storks use their beaks to open snails, clams and mussels.
Storks build their nests in trees, on cliff-ledges, and on man-made structures, and o occasionally on the ground. Their nests can be huge, up to six feet. Some storks return to the same nest year after year.
Fun Stork Facts
- A stork can live 20 to 30 years.
- Some storks are colony nesters; others only nest in pairs.
- The Jabiru is also called the black-necked stork and has coral colored legs.
- Storks can hiss, honk, croak, squeal and whistle. They also clatter their beaks.
- The European and Asian white stork winters in Africa.
- The wood stork is the only stork that breeds in the US.
- Storks usually lay 3 to 5 eggs.
San Diego Zoo
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
US Fish and Wildlife Service