Family Storks (Ciconiidae)

Least Concern

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)


French: Cigogne noire German: Schwarzstorch Spanish: Cigüeña negra

Ardea nigra


, 1758,



Apparently the most primitive member of genus in both behaviour and morphology. Monotypic.


Breeds across Palearctic, mostly c. 40°–60° N; also in scattered populations from Malawi and Namibia to South Africa. Winters in NE, sub-Saharan and S Africa, and from W India (Gujarat) E through N India and N Indochina to SE & E China, Taiwan and South Korea; some individuals (few hundreds) resident in SW Spain#R.

Descriptive notes

95–100 cm; c. 3 kg; wingspan 144–180 cm. Male averages larger. Black upperparts with a green and purple gloss. Tail black; white undertail-coverts often... read more


Usually silent away from breeding locality. Around nest, a series of drawn-out piping raptor-like... read more


Generally prefers undisturbed open woodland, foraging in streams, pools, marshes, riverbanks,... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly fish, such as loaches (Misgurnus) and pike (Esox lucius); also amphibia, insects, snails, crabs and small reptiles... read more


Commences in spring in Palearctic and in Cape Province, South Africa. Those nesting further N in S Africa mainly breed during cool dry... read more


Largely migratory. W Palearctic populations chiefly winter in sub-Saharan Africa, mainly in the... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Global population estimated by Wetlands International at 24,000–44,000 birds: some regional population are increasing, others... read more

Recommended citation

Elliott, A., Christie, D.A., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2020). Black Stork (Ciconia nigra). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 17 February 2020).