Friday, 11 March 2016

Storks - symbol of Polish spring

12th March 2016

Wow storks have come back to Poland. So it means it is the beginning of spring. Days are getting longer and longer but they are rainy and gloomy. Luckily my favourite storks arrived..
 

"Every Fourth Stork is Polish"

Photograph  ©Kuba Przedzienkowski
Each spring, Poland welcomes home roughly 25 percent of the nearly 325,000 white storks (scientific name Ciconia ciconia) that breed in Europe. When the storks return from their wintering grounds in Africa, they are attracted to tall trees or buildings where they build nests that often weigh up several tons.  People sometimes attach wagon wheels to rooftops and barns or tall poles near buildings in hopes of luring the birds to nest near their homes. Today, telecommunications companies put up special poles and nest supports for the storks.
Adult white storks are about 1 m (3 ft) tall, with long red legs, a straight pointed red bill, white plumage, and black wing feathers. They eat a wide variety of prey items including insects, frogs, toads, fish, rodents, snakes, lizards, earthworms, and other prey found on the ground.
Storks are considered to be silent birds, but white storks throw their heads back and clatter their upper and lower bills together rapidly, making a loud rattle.
The map below shows the average number of stork pairs per square km in each of the 16 provinces of Poland, with the greatest density in the east and northeastern areas. Nearly 41 thousand “couples” of the 160 thousand worldwide breed in Poland, thus, “every fourth stork is Polish.” (http://poland.pl/spec/storks/facts.htm and www.bociany.pl)
Stork nests are huge: some old nests may be over 6 ft (2 m) in diameter and nearly 9 ft (3 m) in depth. They are constructed of branches and sticks and lined with twigs, grasses, sod, rags, and paper. Some nests have been in continuous use for hundreds of years . Breeding birds add to the nest each summer, with both males and females contributing to the construction.
Storks stay with one mate for the breeding season, but they do not migrate or over-winter together. If the same pair mates the next year, it is because of a strong attachment to the nesting site. The female usually lays 3–5 eggs, and both parents incubate the eggs for about one month. Young chicks are covered with white down and have black bills; their legs and bills slowly turn red as they mature.
Both parents bring food to the nest until the young fledge at 8–9 weeks of age. As the babies prepare for their first flight, they practice by jumping up from the ground floor of the nest, and then take small flights near the nest. Before the summer is over, they join their parents at the feeding grounds, which are usually near wet or marshy areas. Young birds reach sexual maturity when they are four years old, and can live and reproduce for over 30 years.
The overall population of white storks in western Europe has declined steadily over the past century, largely due to pollution and loss of habitat.  For example, 4000 pairs made their home in Denmark in  1890, but only 12 pairs were recorded in 1989. Although storks are protected by popular opinion in Europe, they are persecuted in other areas, such as Africa, where they overwinter. Recently, storks that usually migrate to Africa for the winter have been observed to stop in Spain, near the large refuse areas near Madrid, where they find sufficient food.
 wikipedia




18 comments:

  1. So storks feel welcome in Poland. Good! And they can live to age 30? Wow.
    Huge flocks of big birds flew high above my house on Monday and Tuesday. Maybe they were storks on their way to Poland. :)

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  2. The variety of Storks that we have here are the S.E Asian variety, where here they are called by their aboriginal name
    of "JABIRU". They are mainly confined to the northern tropical regions but some have been seen around Sydney. I can't recall ever having seen one and I don't think they make their nests on roofs and telegraph poles here???
    We do have a plentiful "supply" of the ibis bird - quite a difference between the rural one and the messy suburban one, I can assure you.
    Maybe Diane B. or Margaret B.(Aussies) may have more details of our Jabiru's and their habitats etc.

    Sad to read of their declining population, but maybe when they migrate to Africa they are a source of food???
    Good interesting report Gosia, well done.
    Cheers
    Colin

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    1. Colin I know they are different types of storks.... in the world but only this one is common in Poland

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  3. It's a long way from Africa to Poland. Isn't it amazing they can make that distance twice a year? I'm glad yours are returning and spring is arriving with them in Poland.

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    1. Cynthia it is a long way but they are so strong birds...Yes spring is coming slowly

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  4. They're quite big but lovely. I love spring!! I'm glad glad it's coming!!

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    1. definitely they are so big birds

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  5. Gosia, they did not bring you a baby?

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    1. Andrew they did once so it is enough and now I am too old for a baby

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  6. They are beautiful birds. They sure do have a long flight to and from Africa.

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    1. But they always come back to thier nests

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  7. Interesting reading about the stork.

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  8. I'm here visiting, this time to send along my thanks for sharing this awesome post with such a great series of images!! We birders at I'd Rather B Birdin' are so appreciative with your participation.

    How lovely a bird to look forward to....each and every Spring.

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  9. Hello!:) Such an interesting read, I had no idea that so many White Storks stop in your country every Spring.

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  10. Great post, Gosia k.

    Good luck to all the Mr. and Mrs. Storks out there!
    ~

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