Storks – Homing

Storks – Homing

Music; Ambience: adult stork clattering and squawking

We’re listening to the clattering of a white stork. It’s a sound that people in Hungary are familiar with this time of year. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The white stork, with its long red legs and bill, is a central character in Hungarian fable and folk song. It’s a springtime ritual to welcome the storks back from their winter migration. The birds usually return, in pairs, to the exact same nesting spot year after year — often in the chimney of a house or the spire of a church. Andras Schmidt is a Hungarian environmental official and a longtime stork enthusiast.

AS: “The male usually arrives a few days earlier than the female and because they are so much bound to their home ground, to their nest site, they find each other again, on the nests in the spring. It is especially interesting if we consider that they have covered tens of thousands of kilometers in their migration during the winter and they may not have seen each other during this time.”

But Schmidt says you can’t really be sure that the couple of storks up on the roof is the same pair that’s nested there in previous years.

AS: “And it happens quite often that a returning male, because the male arrives first in the spring, will find another male on the nest already, waiting for a female. And then usually a very serious fight begins, which may mean the death of either of the two. And then the male stork that won the battle may breed with the female mate of the stork that lost, or with another female. Storks do live in pairs and share the care of chicks, but they’re not especially loyal. It happens quite often that the pairs are not the same one year from the other.”

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation.

Storks - Homing

Pairs of white storks amaze Hungarians by returning year after year to nest in the exact same spot.
Air Date:05/22/2015
Scientist:
Transcript:

Storks - Homing

Music; Ambience: adult stork clattering and squawking

We're listening to the clattering of a white stork. It's a sound that people in Hungary are familiar with this time of year. I'm Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. The white stork, with its long red legs and bill, is a central character in Hungarian fable and folk song. It's a springtime ritual to welcome the storks back from their winter migration. The birds usually return, in pairs, to the exact same nesting spot year after year -- often in the chimney of a house or the spire of a church. Andras Schmidt is a Hungarian environmental official and a longtime stork enthusiast.

AS: "The male usually arrives a few days earlier than the female and because they are so much bound to their home ground, to their nest site, they find each other again, on the nests in the spring. It is especially interesting if we consider that they have covered tens of thousands of kilometers in their migration during the winter and they may not have seen each other during this time."

But Schmidt says you can't really be sure that the couple of storks up on the roof is the same pair that's nested there in previous years.

AS: "And it happens quite often that a returning male, because the male arrives first in the spring, will find another male on the nest already, waiting for a female. And then usually a very serious fight begins, which may mean the death of either of the two. And then the male stork that won the battle may breed with the female mate of the stork that lost, or with another female. Storks do live in pairs and share the care of chicks, but they're not especially loyal. It happens quite often that the pairs are not the same one year from the other."

Pulse of the Planet is presented with support provided by the National Science Foundation.