White stork

Ciconia ciconia

اللقلق الأبيض/ أبو سعد

Status: Common

The White Stork is in the Ciconiidae family in the Ciconiformes order. It is 95-110 cm in size, 2.3-4.4 kg. in weight and with a wingspan of 180-218 cm. The stork is among the most striking and well-known birds in this area. It is a large bird with long legs and neck, completely white aside from the black wings and the black eye-line and the legs and beak are red. In flight, the contrast of the black flight feathers to the rest of the body is striking. The neck is stretched to its full length as are the legs which extend past the tail. Juveniles are similar to adults with faded red legs and a black tip to the beak. The stork walks slowly and elegantly as it hunts for food, with an erect neck which distinguishes it from the large egrets. The flight of the stork is heavy, and utilizes the hot air streams the same as all soaring birds do. The stork migrates in large and crowded flocks which are not organized in formation as are the pelicans and the cranes. Storks prefer open wetlands such as those that can be found near ponds and lakes as well as watered fields. However, the increased control and exploitation of waterways by man is destroying much of the preferred habitat of the stork. The usually quiet stork has a courting ceremony which includes a series of clicking noises that start when the back of the head is lying on the back and continue as the head rises and returns to its normal position with the neck erect. This ceremony is repeated many times as adults meet during the season and it is the origin of the White Storks name in Arabic because the clicking noises sounds like "laklaklaklak". A large nest made out of branches is built on high locations such as the roofs of houses, church steeples, and treetops.   Areas with cold and rainy climate are avoided. One occasion where storks nested in an extremely hot area was documented in which the male was seen wetting straw and bringing it to the nest to help keep the nestlings cool while the female shaded them with her wings. The Eastern and Central European population of nesting storks is on the rise and quoted as 500,000 in 2012. The White Storks is a very common migrant in Palestine with about 500,000 birds passing through during migration while some birds will stay for the winter.

International conservation status: LC

Regional conservation status: LC

The White Stork is threatened by change and loss of habitat, illegal hunting, electrocution by high power lines and secondary poisonings by pesticides.

Migratory behaviour: migration in September, March - May

Sites: Beitillu, Umm at-Tut, Wadi Al-Quff nature reserves