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A photo of a Maguari Stork (Ciconia maguari)
Maguari Stork

Maguari Stork

Ciconia maguari

The Maguari stork (Ciconia maguari) is a majestic bird, slightly larger than its relative, the white stork. It is the sole representative of its genus in the New World, sharing the skies with only two other stork species in the Americas: the wood stork and the jabiru. Standing tall at 97 to 120 cm with a wingspan of 155 to 180 cm, this stork is an impressive sight, particularly in flight.

Identification Tips

Adult Maguari storks are predominantly white with black flight feathers and a distinctive forked black tail. The tail is shorter than the stiff white under-tail coverts, which protrude beneath and may aid in flight. The bill is bluish-grey with a dark maroon tip, and the legs are purplish red. The iris is a striking lemon-yellow or cream white, and the throat skin is a vibrant orangey red, deepening during courtship. Males are slightly larger and may have a subtly upward curved bill.

Juvenile Maguari storks initially sport snowy white down, which is replaced by dark plumage during their first few days. This dark coloration may serve as camouflage or aid in thermoregulation. As they mature, juveniles molt into a white plumage similar to adults, but can be distinguished by their dark iris, which lightens with age.


The Maguari stork inhabits open lowland wetlands, including tropical wet savannah grasslands, marshes, mudflats, and flooded fields. It avoids forested areas and can occasionally be found in dry fields and cultivated lands.


This stork's range spans much of South America, primarily to the east of the Andes. It is found in Venezuela, eastern Colombia, Guyana, eastern Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina. It is a rare visitor to the Suriname coast and has been reported as a vagrant in Trinidad and Tobago.


The Maguari stork is a solitary or colonial nester, with ground nests near shallow water. It is a generalist feeder, preying on a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial animals. This stork forages in shallow waters, walking slowly with its bill near the surface, ready to seize prey. It may also forage on dry land, searching for invertebrates and small mammals.

Song & Calls

Adults produce wheezing, hissing, disyllabic whistles during greeting displays at the nest. These vocalizations are slower and lower pitched than those of other storks. Young make begging calls described as "Ehehe-ehehe."


Breeding is synchronized with the onset of the wet season. The Maguari stork nests on the ground or occasionally in low trees. Clutch size is typically 3-4 eggs, with incubation lasting 29-32 days. Nestlings develop defensive behavior at three weeks old, a unique trait among storks.

Similar Species

The Maguari stork can be confused with the white stork but is distinguished by its forked black tail and the coloration of its bill and legs.

Diet and Feeding

The diet includes fish, frogs, eels, earthworms, invertebrates, snakes, small mammals, and bird eggs. It forages in shallow waters and occasionally on dry land, displaying a broad diet compared to other storks.

Conservation Status

The Maguari stork is classified as Least Concern due to its large range and stable population. However, habitat destruction and hunting pose threats, and closer global population monitoring is recommended to safeguard its future.

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