The white stork is probably one of the most popular birds popular in our country, given the beliefs and stories that have it as the protagonist. On the contrary, the black stork, which in other times must have been as abundant as the white one, has been the great unknown and ignored, because it is much more elusive and does not approach human populations.
Are Iberian storks really so different?
Storks belong to the family Ciconidae, formed by 17 species of birds. Among them, gender stands out Ciconia, within which the Iberian storks are classified:
- Ciconia ciconia or white stork.
- Ciconia nigra or black stork.
Apart from the self-interest that these birds that visit the Iberian Peninsula arouse to reproduce, it is exciting to see how two species so genetically close have such disparate patterns of behavior. While the white stork is anthropic, the black one is shy, and is that it always looks for the least humanized places of our mountains.
Also in terms of number and distribution the differences are extraordinary. While the white stork is abundant, the black one is sadly on the list of threatened species. All these data are what lead us to devise completely different conservation strategies.
How is the black stork?
The black stork is characterized by:
- Have a wingspan of about 150 centimeters.
- Weigh around three kilos.
- Its legs have no feathers and are reddish, thin and long.
- Its beak is pointed, reddish in color and flows into a red orbital ring.
- The plumage is completely black, except for the belly, which is white.
Population and distribution in Spain and Europe
In Spain it occupies the southwestern region, with a main population occupying both banks of the Tagus River. The approximate estimate of breeding pairs in our country is between 300 and 350. In Europe, as a Transaharan migrant species, populations are mostly found in the east, where it is relatively abundant.
Habitat of the black stork
The choice of one area or another to be established depends on the availability of substrates to create the nest, the proximity of freshwater bodies and the minimum human presence. It is an eminently forest species. Therefore, choose mature forests little humanized on the banks of rivers or lagoons, to install their nests in large trees.
The peninsular black stork has a particularity, and that is, if it is forced, it nests in rocky areas, given the loss of forest mass.
The conservation of the black stork
Everything indicates that both the distribution area and the number of couples has been reducing over the years. The causes could be:
- First, the destruction of mature forests and the disappearance of large bodies of water.
- The second most important is the creation of public roads or buildings near the breeding grounds.
- Third, the loss of feeding areas, the discomfort of adults during the breeding season or the theft of eggs.
- But, above all, electrocution, poisoning and illegal hunting, as with almost all large wild birds.
The measures aimed at protecting and increasing black stork populations in Spain go through developing a good recovery plan that includes:
- Protection and habitat recovery.
- Reduction of adult mortality.
- Improvement of reproductive success, through surveillance programs to eliminate discomfort and theft.
- Specialization in stork recovery in veterinary hospitals.
Despite being present in the popular imagination, the behavior of storks, is still little known. How are these curious birds? Read more “