White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)

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The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a large bird breeding in Europe, northern Africa, and parts of western Asia. In the cold winter months, the birds migrate south up to South Africa and India. They feed on a variety of smaller animals (including worms, insects, frogs, mice, fishes, lizards, and snakes) as well as carrion. They commonly choose the roofs of houses in rural villages as nesting sites and return to the same place each year. Since they can reach an age of more than 35 years and continue to improve their nest year after year, these structures can reach a height of several metres and a weight of up to 2 tons! The storks preferentially inhabit grassy meadows and shallow wetlands, but the extent of these habitats decreased drastically during the 20th century. Consequently, the White Stork disappeared from many regions in Europe until the 1980s. Due to the efforts of conservationists, the populations recovered since the 1990s and birds returned to previously abandoned habitats. In 2004, the first pair of White Storks was observed to build a nest in Britain since 600 years! Many legends surround these storks – the most famous is that they bring babies to new parents. I have taken the photographs in this post during the summers of 2014 and 2015 in northern Germany, where White Storks can be observed quite readily.

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