Birds of prey

White stork

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White stork (Ciconia ciconia)

The white stork is a kind of a large bird, representative of the Stork family. It nests and brings up its offspring in Europe (including Bulgaria), North Africa, the Near East and Central Asia. It seasonally migrates in Sub-Saharan Africa, the West Indies and less often in the southern parts of the Arabian Peninsula.

The adult bird has a distinctive appearance with almost completely white plumage, black flight feathers, a long neck, long red legs and a long red pointed bill. The length of the body from the tip of the bill to the end of the tail is 100 - 115 cm, and the wingspan is 155 - 215 cm. The shape and size of the wings aid in long-distance migrations, allowing the bird to soar and use warm air currents to conserve energy.

The species is synanthropic and nests in or near settlements. It builds its nests on chimneys, power grid poles and roofs. The nest is large, it is repaired every year and, apart from the nesting of the white stork, it serves as a shelter for other types of small birds.

The pair of white storks usually brings up one brood per year. Normally, the female lays four eggs, although it is possible for their number to vary from 1 to 7.

The largest migration flow of the species to Africa and back passes over Bulgaria. Birds from the eastern migratory population gather here and form huge flocks that rest and gather strength in several places along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

The white stork carries diverse symbolism among the different peoples who have lived together with it for centuries. It is believed to bring family comfort and happiness to the home over which it nests. It is also a symbol of fertility and parental care.

The stork is a predator, and its main prey is small rodents that are pests of field crops. It is believed to have a direct impact on human food provision. The annual migrations leading to disappearance of the birds at the end of summer and their reappearance after the end of the cold winter are prerequisite for the occurrence of many myths. The stork is the bird that symbolizes the spring arrival for the Bulgarians. The custom of wearing “martenitsa” is also associated with the white stork. Whoever sees a stork must take the “martenitsa” off his chest, leave it under a stone or tie it to a blossoming tree.