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Abdim’s Stork

AKA:  White Bellied Stork

Order:  Ciconiiformes - Storks and Herons
Family:   Ciconiidae

Scientific name:  Ciconia abdimii


Description: Z:\Kathy\PICTURES Kathy\Animal Pix\Bird Pix\abdims stork.jpgDescription:  A small stork; upper body glossed purple and green, lower body is white.  Immature browner and more dull.  Males are slightly larger than female.  Non-breeding adult not as brightly colored.  Weight: 2 lb.  to 6lb.  Height: 29.5 in. to 31.9 in.




Description: Z:\Education Division\Info Sheets\maps\Birds\Abdim Stork.jpgHome Range:  Africa South of Sahara and SW Arabia; breeds N of equator, with most birds spending rest of the year in eastern and southern parts of Africa.


Habitat type:  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.  Also nests in villages, protected from disturbance by superstition, consequently having little fear of humans.


Median LongevityUnknown.


Reproductive habits:   Breeds in May or when there is favorable rain.  Abdim’s storks breed in widely scattered colonies, normally not exceeding 20 pairs.  Storks have developed a complex series of displays.   Mixed species breeding colonies are not unusual.  Several species of storks, herons, egrets, ibises, cormorants, and Pelicans may all share the nesting area.  Nests are 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 unless they collapse (although not necessarily by the same breeding pair).  1- 3 eggs are laid.  Incubation is 30 – 31 days. Chicks have light grey down, fledging at about 50 – 60 days.


Diet in Wild:  Primarily insectivorous; army worms, locusts, and crickets, although will also take mice, frogs, lizards, small fish, mollusks, crabs, millipedes, scorpions, water rats and small birds.


Diet in Zoo:  Bird of prey diet, smelt, crane pellets, flamingo diet, dog food.


General Info:  Found during May – Aug in breeding zones north of equator.  Nov – Mar in south tropics, all coinciding with the rains.  Often travels in large flocks of about 10,000.  When migrating it landsdaily to feed.  Species is rarely seen in groups of less than 10.  Arrives at breeding grounds just as the rains begin and this has led to native folklore giving these birds the title of the “Rain-bringer”, in an area where the people depend on the rains for the success of their crops and their own survival.   Superstition demands the immunity of the bird from any form of disturbance and as a result they are quite tame and frequent roofs of native dwellings.  The European white stork and the Abdim’s stork are known in many parts of Africa as “grasshopper birds”.  Both species are important in the control of potentially devastating swarms of locust.  Storks, shoebills and  vultures share the unusual characteristic of cooling down by urohydrosis – excreting urine on the legs to cool themselves as the urine evaporates.


Predators:  None specified.


Related Artifacts:  Common and Woodstork skulls in Biofact Closet.


Conservation status:  Even though the species has a large range, population numbers are decreasing. Admin’s storks are potentially threatened by habitat degradation through urban development and agricultural activities (such as maize farming) which have reduced the available area of natural grassland.  ICUN Red List: Least Concern.  AZA has stud book, SSP, and PMP.  Breeds well in captivity.




Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 1. 1992. Ostrich to Ducks. J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. Pgs. 446, 450, 451,459.


IUCN Redlist