Using total counts in simultaneous annual surveys, we monitored the population size and spatial distribution of oriental white storks ( Ciconia boyciana
) wintering in Poyang Lake between 1998 and 2011. Results showed that Poyang Lake wetland is an important wintering ground for oriental white storks, with an annual average population number of 2 305±326. The population sizes in 2004, 2005, 2010, and 2011 were higher than the highest-ever estimate of its global population. In 2005, we recorded 3 789 individuals, which was the maximum population number within the period of 1998-2011. The storks inhabited 52 lakes, with the greatest distance between these lakes being 180.3 km. The storks presented a clustered distribution pattern in the Poyang Lake wetland, irrespective of the number of individuals or occurrence frequencies. Shahu, Dahuchi, Banghu, and Hanchihu were most frequently used lakes and had the largest annual average numbers of storks. There was a significant positive correlation between occurrence frequency and annual average number of storks in the lakes. Most of the lakes important for storks were covered by existing nature reserves, though some lakes outside the reserves were also frequently used. About 64.9%±5.5% of the storks were found in nature reserves. In addition, the storks more frequently used and clumped in significantly larger flocks in lakes within nature reserves than lakes outside.