First stork of the year settles in Denmark

Christian Wenande
February 28th, 2023

A traditional harbinger of the arrival of spring, the stork is migrating back from winter grounds earlier than before

The end of winter is nigh! Or at least according to old Danish folklore, which saw the stork as a good luck charm that signalled the arrival of spring.

The first of the big migratory birds has settled in Denmark. It was spotted in Jejsing in south Jutland yesterday afternoon.

Bird spotter association storkene.dk documented the stork’s arrival.

While a handful of storks choose to winter in Denmark these days, this is the first one returning to nest from its winter grounds.

READ ALSO: Here’s where you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights tonight!

Climate change impact
It used to be common for the first stork of the year to return to Denmark in mid-March, but climate change has led to the big birds returning earlier these days.

“The storks we now see are individuals from southwestern Europe that migrate north as soon as the weather is permissible and the winds come from the southwest,” said Jesper Leegaard, a stork expert from Storkene.dk.

“Many storks are as close as Spain, France and southwest Germany and can return to the north in just a few days. So we probably need to get used to the stork arriving earlier than what we are used to.”

The stork population in western Europe has increased significantly in recent decades.

Back in 2005, there were 3,651 breeding pairs in Germany – a figure that had increased to around 10,000 in 2022.


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