White stork

(Ciconia ciconia)
This species is Palearctic, which breeds in Europe (excluding Finland, Norway, England, Ireland, Iceland and Cyprus), Asia and Africa.
Sophia Siggiridou_ Kostas Vidakis, MSc

Distribution of the species

This species breeds in almost all European countries (expect Finland, Norway, Great Britain, Ireland, Iceland, Switzerland and Cyprus), Asia (south to the Persian Gulf, east to Sakhalin Island) and South Africa. Its European population is about 180 000 breeding pairs. In Bulgaria, the White stork is A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, as an exception wintering. During the last count 4818 pairs were registered. Most of the pairs breed at altitudes between 50 and 499 m. 229 500 migratory birds from Central and Eastern Europe have been identified in the Burgas bay. Wintering birds are most often observed along the Maritsa and Struma rivers.


A breeding species of Paggaio, with a population of 10–13 pairs that is smaller than the 2% of the national population of more than 2,000 pairs. The conservation status of the local population, which is not isolated within its wider distribution range, is considered good. It is mostly found at lower altitudes in the area, in human settlements and cultivations with irrigation canals and natural streams. It covers there its nesting (mostly on human constructions) and food requirements, often travelling 2–3 km far from its nest

Description of the species (biological and ecological features)

A very large migratory bird. Black and white, with a long neck and long, red bill and legs. With distinctively slow, “imperial” walking. Prefers to soar with stretched neck and legs, taking advantage of air thermals. Declares its presence by producing bill-clattering sounds that resemble machinegun fire from a distance. A tree-top nester in natural habitats, it now nests almost exclusively on human constructions. Common in culture and folklore because of its association with human settlements. In European folklore, white storks bring babies, which they find on “stork stones” in caves and marshes, to new parents. Households would notify when they wanted children by placing sweets for the stork on the window sill.

Overwinters from sub-Saharan to South Africa. Builds its large stick nest, which is used for many years, on churches, roofs and chimneys, but most often on man-made platforms suspended on utility poles. Many other species also nest in the large stork nest, including house sparrows, tree sparrows, starlings, white wagtails, lesser kestrels, little owls, jackdaws and rollers. Prefers open farmland close to wetland habitats, such as streams, marshes and flooded areas. Forages mostly on the ground, but also in flight during migration. Feeds on a large variety of animal prey, such as mollusks, small amphibians, reptiles, and birds. However, insects are its favorite prey, mainly large coleopterans and orthopterans in the area.

Mainly threatened by habitat degradation and the use of agrochemicals, as a result of agricultural intensification. Poaching, poison baiting intended for “mammal pests”, collision with power lines and forest encroaching are also important threats for the species.

Conservation status

The species is included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria with the category “Vulnerable”.

Conservation state

The species is included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria with the category “Vulnerable” (VU), as well as Annexes 2 and 3 of the Biodiversity Act (BDA). This species is also included in Annex I to Directive 2009/147 / EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 November 2009 on the conservation of wild birds. The White stork is also included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – with the category “Least Concern” (LC).

Not included in a SPEC category (European species of conservation concern) by BirdLife International.

*Note: For the description of birds is used information from: Golemanski, V. & al. (eds). 2015. Red Data Book of the Republic of Bulgaria. Vol. 2. Animals. BAS & MoEW, Sofia [English ed.: ISBN 978-954-9746-22-8 (IBER – BAS), 978-954-8497-18-3 (MoEW)]; Michev T., D. Simeonov, L. Profirov. 2012. Birds of the Balkan Peninsula. Ecotan, Sofia, 300 pp; the website of the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).