S even species of storks reside at Disney's Animal Kingdom. All are in the family Ciconiidae, but represent all three tribes within the family: Ciconini ("typical" storks), Leptoptilini ("giant" storks), and Mycteriini (wood storks and openbills). The storks currently living here include Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus), Painted Stork (Mycteria cinerea), Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis), Woolly-necked Stork (Ciconia episcopus episcopus), Abdim's Stork (Ciconia abdimii), and European White Stork (Ciconia ciconia ciconia).
Storks are medium-to-large water birds. They have long bills, necks, and legs. Their bills will show differences between species based on their method of feeding. For example, the genus Epbippiorhyncbus, of which the Saddle-billed stork is representative, have long, pointed, slightly upturned bills. These are effective for jabbing at fish in shallow water. Birds in the genus Mycteria have long, tapered, slightly down-curved bills, which have sensitive tips that can detect fish and other prey in murky water conditions. They also have bare skin on the head to keep from getting feathers dirty.
Storks have long broad wings, which enable to them to support their fairly bulky bodies. They are heavily dependent on the ability to soar, as they do not have the stamina to sustain flapping flight. They will use
updrafts and thermals to gain altitude and to fly for long distances.
Storks can be found in all regions of the globe except the Arctic and Antarctic, though their greatest diversity occurs in the tropics. Their general habitat consists of a variety of wetlands, with some species living in grasslands or even forests.
The Saddle-billed, Yellowbilled and Marabou storks can be found in similar geographic regions. They range throughout tropical Africa, from south of the Sahara desert to South Africa. The Yellowbilled stork can also be found along the western edge of Madagascar.
The Abdim's stork is also found in Africa, but unlike the three mentioned above, their breeding and nonbreeding ranges are separate. They breed north of the equator, but most birds spend the rest of the year in eastern and southern parts of Africa.
Of the three recognized subspecies of Woolly-necked storks, C. e. episcopus ranges from India to Indochina and the North Malay Peninsula. They can also be found in the Philippines. The Painted stork's range also extends throughout India and into eastern China, Thailand, Kampuchea, and Vietnam.
The European White stork has the most varied range of all the storks at Disney's Animal Kingdom. C. c. ciconia can be found in Europe, western Asia, and South Africa. They winter mostly in tropical and southern Africa.
All stork species are carnivorous. Typical food includes small to medium fish, frogs, insects, and small rodents. They generally feed in shallow ponds with muddy, murky water. You will often see the birds moving their open bill from side to side either standing still or walking about in shallow water. They will sometimes stir up mud from the bottom with one of their feet. This makes the fish move about more, either due to alarm or being attracted to the movements. When the stork's bill comes into contact with prey, it snaps shut immediately.
The Woolly-neck and European White storks are opportunistic feeders, taking whatever is available. The Abdim's stork primarily eats insects, although it will consume other prey items as well. They often congregate in large numbers at grass fires and around swarms of locusts and armyworm caterpillars.
The Saddle-billed stork eats mostly medium to large fish, but will also consume frogs, reptiles, small rodents, insects, and occasionally small birds. They use a different feeding technique as opposed to the Painted, Yellow-billed, and other storks. The Saddle-billed storks will walk about in shallow water, repeatedly jabbing the water with their bills. This stirs up the fish, which are then quickly snapped up. After consuming their prey, these storks frequently take drinks of water.
The Marabou stork has the most unique food preference. These storks are largely carrion eaters, most often stealing scraps from vultures, hyenas, and wild dogs. They will also consume a variety of prey items, including flamingo chicks, eggs, and occasionally adults.
del Hoyo, josep, Elliot, Andrew, and Sargatal, jordi; The Handbook of the Birds of the World vol. J Ostrich to Ducks Lynx Edicions, Barcelona 1992
Hancock, James A., Kushlan, James A., and Kahl, M. Philip; Storks, Ibises, and Spoonbills of the World Academic Press Inc., San Diego, CA 1992
AZA Ciconiiformes Advisory Group (CicAG) Regional Collection Plan and Three Year Action Plan, July 2000