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Cranes and Storks in flight (1 Viewer)

Carpathian Ed

Well-known member
Today I had a flock of cranes (Grus grus) pass over the house migrating south from Poland. All summer we've had storks (which left just before the stag rut began) and I discovered that there is little info online to help birders discern between the two species in flight, so I'm posting a few photos to help with silhouetting them.
White storks (Ciconia ciconia) are obviously easily identified by their bright white colouring and the clacking of their beaks, and cranes by their incessant 'whooping', but when high up flying in formation these giant birds can be easily confused. Hopefully these (poorly taken) photos help a bit.


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Well-known member
One difference is that cranes flap wings raising them clearly above the body height, and outer primaries curve elegantly upwards.

Storks flap wings downwards, and primaries curve very little.


Registered User
Cranes fly in V-formation, storks don't, or only very rarely?

Interesting to learn.
My only experience with migrating storks was in the Pyrenees, they came over in a pretty neat V during a build up to bad weather.
Some almost came down to our village (Gedre, Iirc), but the flock reconsidered and they moved on into the darkening sky. Afaik, this is just before the crest of the Pyrenees, so the older birds might be anticipating a long coast down to the Spanish countryside just past the bad weather.
Made me appreciate the hazards of migration, it is not a picnic.

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