Ciconiiformes – Storks & allies

Storks swallow their prey whole and any vegetation consumed is by accident

Members of this order are characterized by their long legs and necks, encompassing a diverse group of species known for their graceful movements and impressive flight capabilities. These birds, which include storks and openbills, are well-adapted to their aquatic habitats, utilizing their elongated limbs to wade through shallow waters in search of prey. Storks, in particular, stand out with their towering stature, with some species reaching heights of up to 1.2 meters (4 feet) and boasting impressive wingspans of around 2.4 meters (8 feet).

While storks are found in various parts of the world, they are notably absent from the polar regions, most of North America, and Australia. They prefer warmer climates and are often associated with freshwater habitats such as rivers, lakes, and marshes. In temperate regions, many stork species undertake migratory journeys to escape the colder winter months, with their migratory routes often passing over land.

Despite their imposing size and widespread distribution, storks are generally inconspicuous birds when it comes to human interaction. They tend to live in colonies, nesting in trees or on cliffs, away from areas of heavy human activity. This preference for undisturbed habitats contributes to their overall success and population stability.

In addition to their ecological roles as predators and scavengers, storks hold cultural significance in many societies around the world. In some cultures, storks are symbols of fertility, good luck, or even deliverers of babies—a belief stemming from their habit of nesting on rooftops and chimneys.