Storks living in temperate regions make regular seasonal migrations, which is probably the origin of the legend that storks bring babies with them. Studies show that the migratory routes followed by storks tend to be learned rather than instinctive, as is the case with other birds. Hunting in wetlands, these birds can take advantage of their size by wading through the water in search of potential prey such as a fish, frog or even a small turtle. Storks prefer shallow and relatively confined bodies of water, as locating prey in these areas is easier. American tantalum (Mycteria americana) and related species have sensory receptors at the tip of their beaks that allow them to locate their prey in murky waters. All storks are predatory, although some species such as the African marabout (Leptoptilos crumenifer), which is the largest member of the group and has a large and relatively compact beak, are well equipped to eat carrion. In addition, Abdim's storks (Ciconia abdimii) often gather around prairie fires, looking for invertebrates and other small creatures trying to flee the flames.

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Storks can build massive nests, as they return to the same nesting site every year, adding new material to the existing structure. These nests can be about 1.5 m in diameter and weigh up to 250 kg in the case of white storks (Ciconia ciconia), which frequently nest on buildings. Larger nests seem to offer better chances of survival for the young, and disturbing storks hatching their eggs would bring bad luck according to some regional traditions.

Did you know?

A white stork brought back from Poland in 2016 to the Knepp estate in East Sussex, England, as part of a stork reintroduction program, has returned and partnered with a wild stork, raising five cubs there in 2020. This was the first stork birth recorded in the UK since 1416.

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