Black Storks

Black Storks (Ciconia nigra)

The Black Storks (Ciconia nigra) is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae.

It is a widespread, but rare, species that breeds in the warmer parts of Europe, predominantly in central and eastern regions.

Pair of a Black Storks om a Grass
Pair of a Black Storks om a Grass

his is a huge bird, nearly 1 m tall with a 1.8 m wingspan. It is all black except for the white belly and axillaries (feathers under the wing – the “armpit” or “wingpit” of a bird), and its red bill and legs. It walks slowly and steadily on the ground. Like all storks, it flies with its neck outstretched.

It breeds in large marshy wetlands with interspersed coniferous or broadlived woodlands, but inhabits also hills and mountains with sufficient network of creeks. It builds a stick nest high in trees. This is a shy and wary species, unlike the closely related White Stork.

The Black Stork feeds mainly on fish and also amphibians and insects.

This stork has a rasping call, but rarely indulges in mutual bill-clattering when adults meet at the nest.

The Black Stork is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


The Black Stork is a strong migrant, wintering in tropical Africa. However, the Spanish population is resident. The Black Stork is a broad-winged soaring bird, which relies on moving between thermals of hot air for sustained long distance flight.

Since thermals only form over land, storks, together with large raptors, must cross the Mediterranean at the narrowest points, and many Black Storks can be seen going through the Bosphorus. They fly approximately 100 to 250 km a day with daily maxima up to 500 km.

Two Nesting Black Storks
Two Nesting Black Storks

Western Migration

About 10 percent of the western storks choose the passage Sicily – Cap Bon, Tunisia. The common route goes over Gibraltar. Many birds are flying around the Sahara next to the coast. Most birds are wintering in the wetlands of Nigeria or Mali .

Eastern Migration

The eastern birds take the route Bosphorus – Sinai – Nile. Birds from the Far East winter in the south of China.

Time of Migration

The storks migrate from the middle of august to the end of September. They come back at the middle of march.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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