White Storks are not usually found in Ireland, except as very rare visitors, so you are unlikely to see them here. They are common in other parts of Europe, however, so keep an eye out for them if you go on holidays abroad.
They are tall, long-necked wading birds with long red legs and a straight, pointed red bill. The white plumage of the head, neck and body contrasts with the black wing feathers highlighted with a sheen of purple and green iridescence. A small patch of bare black skin surrounds their brown eyes.
It is also very easy to recognize the sound a Stork makes – they have a very characteristic way of clattering their bills together, sounding like the clattering of two thick sticks.
The easiest way to see a Stork is probably on its nest, but you can also easily find them on wet meadows and newly mown fields.
Storks’ nests are very big and built in high places with good all-round views. You can see Storks in Europe from March till late August.
How do I tell the difference between a young White Stork and an adult?
The sexes are similar in appearance, though males are slightly larger. Youngsters have a grey bill and dull red legs. They are also more greyish than their snowy-white parents.
What do they eat?
White Storks feed on rodents, earthworms, grubs and all kind of small reptiles and amphibians. They do not have any real favourite food - they will eat just about any creature that is common in the area where they live.
European White Storks have been building their nests on man-made structures since the Middle Ages. They can be found on rooftops, towers, chimneys, telephone-poles, walls, haystacks, and specially constructed nest towers. Storks return to breed in the same place, or very near to it, every year. Youngsters always try to return near to the place they were born – you can even find some nests that have been in continuous use for hundreds of years!
White Storks winter in central Africa.
The population of Storks in Europe
Unfortunately you can only see White Storks in some European countries. Over the past century, the number of Storks returning to Europe has been getting smaller. The reason for this is probably a combination of climate change and loss of wetland habitats.