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Abdim’s Stork
Ciconia abdimii

Ciconiiforme Order – Ciconiidae Family

Length: 75-81 cm
Wingspan: 140 cm
Weight: 1, 3 kg

LONGEVITY: Up to 20-21 years in captivity.

Abdim’s Stork is also named White-bellied Stork.
It is an African species, smaller than Black Stork, very similar. 

Abdim’s Stork is common and locally abundant. This bird is protected by local superstitions and encouraged by inhabitants for nesting in villages.
Populations are stable. This species breeds well in captivity. 

Fr : Cigogne d’Abdim
All : Abdimstorch
Esp : Cigüeña de Abdim
Ital : Cicogna di Abdim
Nd : Abdimooievaar
Russe : Белобрюхий Аист
Sd : Abdimstork

Photographs and text by Nicole Bouglouan
Pictures from London Zoo where this species breeds very well.

Sources :

HANDBOOK OF THE BIRDS OF THE WORLD vol 1 by Josep del Hoyo-Andrew Elliot-Jordi Sargatal - Lynx Edicions - ISBN: 8487334105

BIRDS OF AFRICA SOUTH OF THE SAHARA by Ian Sinclair and Peter Ryan - Princeton University Press Princeton and Oxford - ISBN: 0691118159

BIRDS OF THE MIDDLE EAST by R.F. Porter, S. Christensen, P Schiermacker-Ansen C.Helm - ISBN: 0713670169

Avibase (Lepage Denis)

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Summary Cards


Adult has glossy black upperparts with purple and green sheen, except on lower back, rump and uppertail coverts which are white.

Underparts are pure white, except chin, throat and upperbreast which are black with purple sheen. Underwing shows black flight feathers and white coverts.   

On the head, the bare face is blue with red lores and small white forehead spot. The straight, robust bill is greyish-green. Eyes are dark brown, surrounded by bare, white eye-ring. Legs are grey, with pinkish ankles and feet.

Both sexes are similar, with female slightly smaller than male.
Adult non-breeding has duller bare parts.
Immature is duller with less glossy plumage. It is browner than adults. Bill is greyish and legs are pale grey. 

Abdim’s Stork, as several other storks’ species, is usually silent. They sometimes utter some two-note whistles at nest or roosts.
However, during the displays, storks of genus “ciconia” perform bill-clattering by throwing the head backwards in order to create a resonance box at the neck base.

Abdim’s Stork frequents open grasslands and cultivated areas. It can be found in semi-desert and dry areas, but often near water.

Abdim’s Stork breeds north of equator. It is found in sub-Saharan Africa, and also in restricted range in SW Arabia.
It is absent along the west coasts of tropical Africa.  
Outside breeding season, most populations travel to eastern and southern parts of Africa, from November to March.

Abdim’s Stork feeds mainly on large insects, but less frequently on mice and small aquatic preys. It is a very gregarious species which forms feeding flocks.

They congregate at swarms (locusts and caterpillars of African armyworms), and at grass fires where they gorge themselves.

For other food items, Abdim’s Stork walks along, searching for prey. It snatches up the food and then, the bird drinks water.

Abdim’s Stork is a trans-equatorial migrant. They usually travel in huge flocks of up to 10 000 birds. They feed every day at stopovers, except when flying over forests.

As other storks’ species, Abdim’s Stork defecates on its legs to maintain correct body temperature, favouring heat loss through evaporation.

Abdim’s Stork roosts on trees and cliffs, and rests during the day near marshes and pools.

During the displays, the stork fluffs out its neck ruff in order to expose the glossy purple feathers.

Abdim’s Stork has long, broad wings, allowing the bird to soar easily. Head and neck are held forwards and legs backwards, just beyond the tail tip. It circles and glides at height.
During migrations, Abdim’s Stork does not fly in regular formation.

Breeding season starts usually early in rainy season.
Abdim’s Stork breeds in colonies in trees or cliffs with other species. These colonies may gather several thousands of birds.
This species is believed to bring good luck, and it is also named “bringers of rain”, so, people encourage them to nest in the roofs of huts.

The nest is a flat platform made with sticks.
Male arrives first at breeding grounds where it occupies an old nest. Then, it waits for a female. When she arrives, she is first turned away by the male, but little by little, it accepts one female and the pair-bond is formed.  

Female lays 2-3 eggs, or only one. Incubation lasts about one month in captivity.
At hatching, chicks are covered in pale grey down. They fledge about two months later and reach the sexual maturity at 4-5 years.
As in other species, young are probably fed by both parents by regurgitation onto the floor of the nest.

Abdim’s Stork feeds primarily on large insects such as locusts, caterpillars, grasshoppers and crickets. It also takes, but less frequently, small mammals such as mice, and also small aquatic preys, reptiles and even carrion.