White Stork wait for FIFA World Cup
April Fool Story!
BirdLife South Africa (BirdLife Partner) have received numerous reports of White Stork Ciconia ciconia nesting on top of newly-built football stadiums in the country. This is seen as an omen of good luck and is fuelling hopes that an African country is destined to win this year's 2010 FIFA World Cup.
"White Stork are usually arriving in their European breeding grounds at this time", said Mark Anderson - Executive Director of BirdLife South Africa. "However, we've received dozens of reports of White Stork failing to migrate; instead they've been observed nest-building on the top of football stadiums up on down the country".
According to mythology, the White Stork is responsible for delivering babies to new parents. This story probably came about because White Storks have a habit of nesting on buildings in urban areas. "We're hoping the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be our 'new arrival' in Africa!", added Anderson.
“We’re hoping the 2010 FIFA World Cup will be our ‘new arrival’ in Africa!” —Mark Anderson, Executive Director of BirdLife South Africa
White Stork is a strong migrant and traditionally breeds in the warmer parts of Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. It's only been recorded breeding on a few occasions in South Africa - in places such as Olparofali, KwaZulu-Natal - and nothing on this scale. "We think the new soccer stadiums have provided an opportunity for storks to remain in South Africa during this important year which they've taken full advantage of", postulated Anderson.
During their annual migrations, White Stork - like many birds - face a number of threats including illegal hunting, poisoning and electrocution on powerlines. "By staying in South Africa they are avoiding a number of potential threats, as well as saving themselves lots of energy", said Dr Jonathan Barnard - BirdLife's Senior Programme Manager.
This isn't the first time that White Stork have caused a major stir. In 2001, a White Stork fitted with a satellite tracking device was arrested in Burundi on suspicion of spying. The stork - named Saturn - was part of a research project studying the birds' annual migration between Africa and Europe. Furthermore, a White Stork captured in the German village of Klütz in 1822 provided the first real evidence of bird migration when an African arrow was removed from its neck.
“… White Stork really show the perilous lives our migratory birds lead” —Dr Jonathan Barnard, BirdLife’s Senior Programme Manager
Despite a number of storks choosing the stay in South Africa this year, many are starting to arrive safely back in Europe. In Germany NABU (BirdLife Partner) have been using tracking devices to follow three White Stork. Two males - Hobor and Helmut - have already returned to their breeding sites safely. However, the female - Gertrude - sadly died in Tanzania.
Germany also hosted the previous FIFA World Cup, and many football supporters in the country - and across Europe - are now scanning the skies hoping that White Stork return to bring their team good luck in 2010. And it's not just adults, children all over Europe have already spotted 4460 stork as part of BirdLife's Spring Alive campaign.
"The journeys of and amazing stories of White Stork really show the perilous lives our migratory birds lead", concluded Jonathan Barnard.
- Click to read about a White Stork being arrested in Burundi.
- Click to read about White Stork with African arrows in their necks.
- Click to read about NABU's White Stork tracking project.
- Click to join in BirdLife's Spring Alive campaign.
Map showing the journeys of NABU's White Storks.
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