The White stork Ciconia ciconia is a well-known migrant, moving from Europe down to Africa (either via the Iberian Peninsula or via the Middle East) during the winter. Increasingly, however, birds are choosing to over-winter in Europe. The numbers are startling: in southern France, eight birds over-wintered in 1996-1997, but 172 did so in 2003-2004 (Archaux et al. 2004).
This winter, one individual over-wintered at Lake Mj°sa, near Hamar, Norway. Nicknamed ‘Sture’ [shown at top of article], it scavenged at a local rubbish dump and (as of early January) was surviving night temperatures of -15-20░; C. Does anyone know if ‘Sture’ is still alive? Increasingly, one reads of small passerines and other migrants over-wintering in their traditional summer breeding grounds, but it’s less well known that large migrants like storks are doing the same thing. Why is this behaviour apparently on the increase? Incidentally, while travelling through Spain in December last year I saw an over-wintering White stork myself: here it is (photo by Bob Loveridge).
One more thing: while it’s well known that White storks spend summer in Europe and winter in Africa, less well known is that the species also occurs in west-central Asia. These birds migrate into India during the winter, and are regarded as a separate subspecies, the Asiatic white stork C. c. asiatica (not to be confused with the extremely similar Oriental stork C. boyciana of China and Japan, previously regarded as another C. ciconia subspecies). Members of the European white stork subspecies C. c. ciconia may also winter in India.
Many thanks to Erik Knatterud for passing on the information about ‘Sture’. Some of you will know that Lake Mjoesa is already famous for quite different reasons…
Ref – –
Archaux, F., Balanša, G., Henry, P.-V. & Zapata, G. 2004. Wintering of White storks in Mediterranean France. Waterbirds 27, 441-445.