The true Storks (Ciconia) are confined to the Old World,three species being recognized, of which the White Stork (C. ciconia) is by far the best known. This species, as its name suggests, is, with the exception of the black wing-coverts and quills, pure white throughout, set off by a dark red bill, reddish pink legs and feet, while the claws are black. The female is similar in dress to the male, though slightly smaller in size, while the young have the wing-coverts and quills brown; the total length is about forty-two inches.
This Stork is found in summer over most of Europe except at the north, and extends also into central Asia, retiring in winter to Africa and northern India.
It does not breed at all points along its northern range, being, for example, an occasional visitor to the east coast of England, coming over from Holland and Germany, where it is common during the nesting season. It was formerly abundant in many parts of France, but constant molestation has made it simply a bird of passage there. It has long been associated with man and seeks rather than shuns human habitations,and hence usually selects a chimney or building for the nesting site, or if these be unavailable,it may resort to rocks or trees. The nest, of sticks and reeds,is at ‘first a shallow affair, but as the birds return year after year to the same place, it finally comes to be several feet high. Boxes are often placed for them to use as nesting places, and it is looked upon as a piece of great good fortune to the household to have the box occupied. The eggs, usually from three to five in number,are pure white. The Storks frequent marshes, where they feed on eels, frogs,lizards, snakes, young birds, small mammals, and insects, and are in some countries protected by law, on account of their value in keeping down reptiles,removing offal, etc. They arrive in the spring and depart in the fall in flocks of immense size, and while on the migrations usually fly at a great height, and always arrange themselves in V-shaped lines, the leader of which is constantly changing.