Ciconia ciconia (Linnaeus, 1785)
Ciconia alba Becsht: Finsch, 1859: 387; Reiser, 1894: 153; Klain, 1909: 112; Ciconia alba Briss.: Radakoff, 1879: 174; Ciconia alba Willugh: Hristovich, 1890: 219.
Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Vulnerable VU [C], BDA-II, III; International: BeC-II, BoC-II, ECS-Spec 2, BD-I.
General distribution. A Palearctic species breeding in Europe (without Finland, Norway, England, Eire, Iceland and Cyprus), Asia and Africa. The European population is about 180 000 breeding pairs .
Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor and passage migrant, as an exception wintering. At the end of the 19th century it was widely distributed . Fifty years later, it was still numerous . In the middle of 80s of the last century, only 5 422 breeding pairs  were registered. During the last count (2004-2005), 4 956 pairs were registered . Most of the pairs (78,8%) breed at altitudes between 50 and 499 m. In Burgas Bay in the autumn of 1981, a total of 227 000 migrating birds from Central and Eastern Europe were registered , and in 2001 the most numerous flock of 28 700 individuals was reported . Wintering birds are most frequently observed near the rivers Maritsa and Struma [10, 11].
Habitats. Mainly populated places in the low parts of the country and in the vicinity to rivers, rice fields, wet meadows, reservoirs, etc. In 1994/1995 only about 8% of the total number of nests were located outside human settlements .
Biology. The multiplying period is from the end of March to the beginning of August . Trees were the preferred substrate for breeding in the past, at present these are electric posts (46,4 %), trees (29,8%), buildings (24,1%), etc. . In regions with an abundant nutrition base there are also colonially breeding birds: the village of Belozem, Plovdiv region (16 nests on the school building) ; the village of Samuilovo, Sliven region (12 nests on oak trees); the village of Litakovo, Sofia region (9 nests on oak trees); the town of Ihtiman (7 nests on the school building), etc. . The food consists of frogs, snakes, mice, etc.
Similar species. The Black Stork (Ciconia nigra).
Negative factors. Most nests in Bulgaria bear risks, as they are situated on electric posts, dry trees, chimneys, monuments, etc.
Conservation measures taken. Protected according to the Biological Diversity Act. Monitoring of the population is carried out as part of international counts [4, 6, 8, 12]. Artificial platforms have been mounted and about 20% of the risk nests have been saved. A Rehabilitation Centre for wounded storks and other rare species of birds has been set up in the city of Stara Zagora .
Conservation measures needed. Saving endangered nests by installing artificial platforms; setting up a National Data Base with exact coordinates and owners; increase of financial sanctions against destruction of nests; preparation of a National Plan for the preservation of the species.
References. 1. BirdLife International, 2004; 2. Reiser, 1894; 3. Patev, 1950; 4. Michev et al., 1989; 5. Ornithological Database of BSPB, 2006; 6. Petrov et al., 1997; 7. Simeonov et al., 1990; 8. Kmetova (2006); 9. Gradev, 2003; 10. Kostadinova, Dereliev,2001; 11. Michev, Profirov, 2003; 12. Petrov et al., in press.
Authors: Tseno Petrov, Gradimir Gradev, Elena Kmetova, Yordan Hristov, Tanyo Michev