Ciconia nigra Linnaeus, 1758

Ciconia nigra image Synonyms: Ciconia niger Linnaeus, 1758; Ciconia fusca Brehm, 1831; Ciconia nigra vera Brehm, 1866; Ardea nigra Linnaeus, 1758; Ardea atra Gmelin, 1789; Ardea chrysopelargus Lichtenstein, 1793; Melanopelargus niger Linnaeus, 1758

Common names: Engl: Black stork, Bulg: Cheren scherkel; Rom: Cocostirc negru; Russ: Chorny aist; Turk: Siyah leylek; Ukr: Leleka chorny



Taxonomic descriptions: Black bird with white belly, with red legs and beak. As big as White Stork (Ciconia ciconia). Black colour in young individuals is replaced with dark brown.

Ciconia nigra arealIUCN Status:
    World level: NE
    Black Sea Regional level: NE
    Subregion level: NE

Distribution: Along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast the Black Stork was nesting in Dobrudja, near the town of Balchik (Simpson, 1861), in the Provadiiska valley (Elwes H., T. Buckley, 1870), in East Stara Planina and the mountain Strandja, especially along watercourses running into the sea rivers Batova, Kamchia, Ropotamo, Djavolska, Kitenska and Veleka. In the last century one pair was nesting in the Romanian part of Dobrudja, by Babadat on a rock near the edge of a wood (Elwes H., T. Buckley, 1870). There are no nesting areas along the Black sea coast of Ukraine and Russia and along the seashore of the Sea of Azov. According to J. Kostin’s information (1983), the Black Stork was breeding in the mountains of the Crimea peninsula in nineteenth and at the beginning of twentieth century. The last nest was found there in 1919 and later only single specimens were recorded during their summer wandering and annual migrations. The Black Stork has a larger distribution than the White Stork in the Caucasus, but is rarer (Portenko, 1958). Its nesting places include the whole seashore of Georgia (Cramp S., K. Simmons (eds.) 1977), but according to A. Abuladze (1993) in 1980 only 2-3 pairs were breeding in West Georgia. Along the South Black Sea coast several nesting places are known, located mostly in the Turkish part of the mountain Strandja, in the Kizilirmak delta, near Trabzon and in some areas distant from the sea (The OST Bird Report, 1975). During seasonal migrations Black Storks can be seen everywhere along the shores of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It is believed (Lebedeva, 1979) that over the western part of the Black Sea migrate Black Storks hatched in Lithva, Latvia, Byelorussia and over the eastern part - specimens from central Russia. In autumn Black Storks from Lithva, Latvia, Byelorussia, Poland, Czhehia, Slovakia, Germany, Denmark (before 1951, when the species was breeding in these countries) and possibly specimens from Central Romania, Ukraine and Estonia concentrate along the western Black Sea coast (Nankinov D. - in press).

Habitats type, Critical habitats, Limiting factors: It settles in woods and rocky places. The choice of the nesting places depends on the proximity of clear basins rich in food, safe places for building nest and the lack of disturbance.

Biology: Some Black Stork marital pairs are formed during the spring migration. The repair of old nests and the building of new ones is accomplished after mid March. The nests are situated on trees and rocks. The laying of eggs starts after 23 March. The number of the eggs is 1-5. The first young hatch during the period 5-15 May. The brood consists of an average of 3.2 youngs. Flying young are observed from 11 June till 18 August. The nesting period of the Black Stork extends to 149 days (Nankinov D. - in press). They feed not only on fish, but also on amphibians, reptiles, small rodents, insects, crustaceans, snails and other invertebrates. To some degree the feeding regime of Black and White Storks is common. Often the two species gather food together, especially in mixed flocks during the migrations. The joint feeding suggests that, like the White Stork, the Black Stork helps in the destruction of the mass proliferations of small rodents and insects.

Population trends: Old sources suggest that until the middle of the last century the Black Stork was a comparatively common nesting bird along the Black Sea coast. After that its numbers decreased, especially in the first half of the twentieth century, when the species left many areas. After 1960 the revival of the population began. Till 1975 only in Bulgaria the nesting pairs increased from 35 to 122 and from 1975 till 1992 they reached 257 pairs. From them 20 pairs breed along the seashore. We suppose that now nearly 50 pairs breed along the Black Sea coast (in Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia).

Threats: Destruction of habitats (urbanization of the landscape, the cutting down of old woods, melioration, pollution of the basins, intensive farming and others), pursuit by birds as ichtyophages, egg collecting. In the past because of prejudices some people in Bulgaria had a negative attitude to the Black Stork and destroyed its nests.

Conservation measures taken: The species is included in Application II of the Washington Convention, forbidding the trade wild animal and plant species threatened with extinction. In Bulgaria and in some other countries in the Black Sea region the Black Stork is protected by the law for the protection of nature. It is included in the Red Books of Bulgaria, Ukraine, Russia and Georgia. Some nesting areas and resting places during migrations along the Black Sea coast are within the bounders of protected areas.

Conservation measures proposed: Ceasing habitat destruction, mainly the cutting down of old woods and the pollution of the basins. Ceasing shooting birds around the breeding-pools and ceasing egg collecting from foreign collectors. All nesting places along the Black Sea coast should be protected.


  1. Abuladze A. 1993. The Black Stork in the West and Central Transcaucasus. “1st Int Black Stork Conservation and Ecology Symposium, 19-23 April 1993, Jurmala”, Abstracts: 22.
  2. Cramp S., K. Simmons (eds), 1977. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. 1: 1-722. Oxford.
  3. Elwes H., T. Buckley, 1870. A list of the Birds of Turkey. “Ibis”, 2:6-59, 188-201, 327-341.
  4. Kostin J. 1983. Pticia Krima. Izd. “Nauka”, Moscow : 1-241.
  5. Lebedeva M. 1979. Migracii chernogo aista - Ciconia nigra (L). “ Migracii ptic Vistichnoi Evrope I Severnoi Azii” Izd. “Nauka”, Moscow, 2: 28-31.
  6. Nankinov D. (in press). Past and present status of the Black Stork in Bulgaria.
  7. Portenko L. 1958. Pticia Kavkaza. “Jivotnii mir SSSR”, 5: 220-269.
  8. Simpson W. 1862. Fortnight in the Dobrudscha. “Ibis”, 3: 361-374.

Compiled by: D.Nankinov