Information requested on Woolly-necked Stork sightings and nests

Woolly-necked Storks (Ciconia episcopus) are residential and intra-African migrant birds. The Woolly-necked Stork is generally black in colour but has a white underbelly and a woolly, white neck which gives it its name. White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) are often mistaken for Woolly-necked Storks or vice versa (see pictures below for differentiation). Woolly-necked Storks were previously registered on the red data list for endangered species but are no longer as their numbers have increased. In KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) they are becoming more common in urban areas as well as the Midlands. They were more coastal in their distribution, but their distributional range appears to be expanding and they are being seen further inland especially around dumping sites, sports fields, and in gardens. They also appear to be less migratory and are often seen in breeding pairs or small breeding colonies of up to five pairs. Breeding sites are usually in large trees and in close proximity to water. Breeding sites have been found in increasing numbers in suburban Durban and Pietermaritzburg areas (visit

As part of her Honours project in the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus, Claire Marchant is investigating the distributional range extension and increase in numbers of Woolly-necked Storks in the KZN. We are requesting observational information on Woolly-necked Stork, particularly where they are seen frequently, where they are nesting, and where they are feeding.

Consequently if you know of any Woolly-necked Stork breeding sites in your area, or if you have these birds in your garden, at your work, or school etc., we would really appreciate it you could let us know.

Please contact Claire Marchant (email: or Professor Colleen Downs: or 033 260 5127 (w) at the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus, Scottsville.


Woolly-necked Stork (©A.Marchant)


White Stork (©A.Marchant)