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Ciconia abdimii (aka White-Bellied Stork) This stork's name commemorates the Turkish Governor of Wadi Halfa in Sudan, Bey El-Arnaut Abdim (1780-1827).
The smallest member of its family, Abdim's Stork is "only" about 36 inches tall, has a wingspan of about 16 inches, and weighs just under 3 pounds. Its plumage is mostly black except for the white underparts and a white streak along the upper edges of the wings. It has long grey legs, red knees and feet, a grey bill, red facial skin next to the eye and, during the breeding season, blue skin near the bill.
Distribution and Habitat
This stork's breeding territory extends from Senegal to the Red Sea, and it winters from Tanzania through most of southern Africa. After breeding in the wet season of the northern tropics (between May and August), it moves east then south (West African populations), or south (East African populations), through the equatorial rain-belt (September-October), and arrives in the southern tropics early in the southern wet season (November-March). It remains in this southern range until March (when the rains decrease), after which it moves north again through East Africa at the beginning of the long rains (March-April), arriving back in the breeding grounds in April and May before (or just as) the heavy rains begin.
In both ranges, it frequents open grassland, pastures, areas of cultivation and savanna woodland, often near water but also in semi-arid areas, gathering beside pools, water-holes, wells and swamps when not feeding, and roosting on trees or cliffs.
The diet consists almost entirely of large grassland insects such as swarming locusts, army worm caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets, although it will also take mice, frogs, lizards, small fish, molluscs, crabs, millipedes, scorpions, water rats and small birds.
Abdim's stork breeds in widely-scattered colonies, normally not exceeding 20 pairs.
The 3-to-4-foot-across nest is built from sticks and vegetation in trees or on cliffs, or on the roofs of huts in villages, and will often be used from year to year (although not necessarily by the same breeding pair).
The average clutch consists of two to three eggs, which are incubated by both parents for 30-33 days. Both parents also cooperate in raising the chicks, which fledge at about 60 days. Most pair bonds only last a single breeding season.
Sexual maturity is reached at 4-5 years, and maximum life span in the wild is about 20 years.
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This page was last updated on June 15, 2017.