Storks, although very widely distributed and popularly quite well known, are a small group comprising less than twenty forms. They have what may be called plump bodies, rather long legs and short necks, and large, compressed, conical, sharp-pointed bills which may be either nearly straight, somewhat curved or open in the middle. The front toes are connected at the base by a web, but the middle claw is without the expectoration found in the Herons, while the tarsus is covered with reticulated scales, and the leg bare well up to the thighs. The wings are large, for they are powerful flying birds, and when on the wing the neck is held straight forward, another feature in which they differ from Herons. The short rounded tail is composed of ten feathers. They are, of course, without the powder-downs.
Among a number of anatomical characters we may mention that “the syrinx has no intrinsic muscles, and the Storks are consequently deprived of voice, and the only sound they produce is a loud clatter, by beating their huge mandibles together.” STEJNEGER.