Temporal range: Early Miocene to present
|Fledgling (left) and adult
European white stork (Ciconia ciconia ciconia)
Ciconia is a genus of birds in the stork family. Six of the seven living species occur in the Old World, but the maguari stork has a South American range. In addition, fossils suggest that Ciconia storks were somewhat more common in the tropical Americas in prehistoric times.
These are large storks, typically 100 cm tall, with a 180 cm wingspan and a long thick bill. Members of this genus are more variable in plumage than other storks, but several species have black upper bodies and wings, and white belly and undertail. Juveniles are a duller, browner version of the adult.
Ciconia storks are gregarious and colonial breeders, and pairs stay together for life. They typically build large stick nests in trees, although the maguari stork will nest on the ground and at least three species will construct their nests on human habitations. One of these, the white stork, is probably the best known of all storks, with a wealth of legend and folklore associated with this familiar visitor to Europe.
The migratory species like the white stork and the black stork soar on broad wings and rely on thermals of hot air for sustained long distance flight. Since thermals only form over land, these storks, like large raptors, must cross the Mediterranean at the narrowest points, and many of these birds can be seen going through the Straits of Gibraltar and the Bosphorus on migration.
- Abdim's stork, Ciconia abdimii
- Woolly-necked stork, Ciconia episcopus
- Storm's stork, Ciconia stormi
- Maguari stork, Ciconia maguari
- Oriental white stork, Ciconia boyciana
- White stork, Ciconia ciconia
- Black stork, Ciconia nigra
The fossil record of the genus is extensive, indicating that Ciconia storks were once more widespread than they are today. Although the known material tends to suggest that the genus evolved around the Atlantic, possibly in western Europe or Africa, the comparative lack of fossil sites in Asia makes this assumption not well-founded presently. All that can be said is that by the Early Pliocene, Ciconia was widespread at least all over the Northern Hemisphere.
Fossil members of the genus include:
- Ciconia louisebolesae (Early Miocene of Riversleigh, Australia)
- ?Ciconia minor (Early Miocene of Rusinga Island, Kenya)
- ?Ciconia sarmatica (Late Miocene of Credinţa, Romania)
- ?Ciconia gaudryi (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Pikermi, Greece)
- Ciconia sp. 1 (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, United States)
- Ciconia sp. 2 (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lee Creek Mine, United States)
- ?Ciconia kahli (Early Pliocene of South Africa)
- Ciconia lucida (Mongolian stork), (Middle Pliocene of Mongolia)
- Ciconia maltha (Asphalt stork), (Late Pliocene – Late Pleistocene of west and south United States, and Cuba)
- Ciconia stehlini (Late Pliocene – Early Pleistocene of Hungary) – may belong to extant species
- Ciconia nana (Australian stork) – (Early to Middle Pliocene, Late Pleistocene, of Australia) – formerly Xenorhynchus
- Ciconia sp. (Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene of Las Breas de San Felipe, Cuba)
A distal radius in Late Pleistocene deposits of San Josecito Cavern (Mexico) may belong in this genus or in Mycteria; it is smaller than that of any known American stork, Ciconia or otherwise. The proposed fossil genus Prociconia from Brazil, also of Late Pleistocene age, may be a junior synonym of either this genus or Jabiru. A distal tarsometatarsus found in a rock shelter on Réunion was probably of a bird taken there as food by early settlers; no known account mentions the presence of storks on the Mascarenes, and while this subfossil was initially believed to be from a stork, it is today assigned to the Réunion ibis (Threskiornis solitarius) which is quite similar to storks osteologically and was not yet described when the bone was discovered (Cowles, 1994).
- Boles. W 2005 A Review of the Australian Fossil Storks of the Genus Ciconia (Aves: Ciconiidae), With the Description of a New Species
- MNHNCu P4599, a distal right tibiotarsus of a mid-sized species, about the size of the White Stork: Suarez, William and Olson, Storrs L. (2003). "New Records of Storks (Ciconiidae) from Quaternary Asphalt Deposits in Cuba". The Condor 105: 150. doi:10.1650/0010-5422(2003)105[150:NROSCF]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 1370615. hdl:10088/1553.
- Steadman, David W.; Arroyo-Cabrales, Joaquin; Johnson, Eileen & Guzman, A. Fabiola (1994). "New Information on the Late Pleistocene Birds from San Josecito Cave, Nuevo León, Mexico" (PDF). Condor 96 (3): 577–589. doi:10.2307/1369460.
- Barlow, Clive (1997): A field guide to birds of the Gambia and Senegal. Pica Press, Nr. Robertsbridge (East Sussex). ISBN 1-873403-32-1
- Cowles, Graham S. (1994): A new genus, three new species and two new records of extinct Holocene birds from Réunion Island, Indian Ocean. Geobios 27(1): 87–93.
- Grimmett, Richard; Inskipp, Carol, Inskipp, Tim & Byers, Clive (1999): Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J.. ISBN 0-691-04910-6
- Hilty, Steven L. (2003): Birds of Venezuela. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
|Wikispecies has information related to: Ciconia|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ciconia.|
- ARKive: images and movies of Ciconia boyciana
- Ciconia videos on Internet Bird Collection:
- Ecological education through live white storks' nest webcam observation