I have been intrigued by all the white storks we have seen in the Algarve and have been photographing them. I wondered why there are so many. So I did a little research. Here are the top ten things I learned about the storks of the Algarve.
- Males and females look almost the same although the male is sometimes a little larger. Storks are monogamous and partner for life. Males and females build their nests together.
- Storks don’t sing like many other birds however they do make sounds by clattering their beaks. They open and close their beaks quickly making a very loud kind of knocking sound.
- Storks from all over Europe that used to migrate to Africa flock to the Algarve now and stay here all year round. This is partly because climate change has brought milder weather but also because storks no longer need to travel to warmer points to find the lizards, frogs, worms, snakes, insects and fish that used to be the mainstays of their diet. Now they eat at landfills and from people’s garbage cans which provide them with junk food all year round.
- Their nests are enormous and built on top of chimneys, telephone poles, church steeples and in trees. Portuguese law protects the nests which are made of sticks, branches, grass and twigs. The same nests are used year after year. It is believed some have been in continuous use for a hundred years.
- The female lays three to five eggs in April and babies become independent after three months. Both parents share the tasks of sitting on the eggs, feeding the babies and protecting and nurturing them.
- Storks can live for as long as thirty-five years.
- Storks are social creatures gathering in huge flocks of up to two hundred here in the Algarve.
- An old Hans Christian Anderson story called The Storks popularized the idea that storks bring babies into the world. According to German folklore storks found babies in caves and swamps and brought them to couples in a basket held in their beaks. Sometimes the babies were dropped down chimneys. Greek and Roman myths feature storks as examples of devoted parents caring for their children and in turn also as devoted children caring for their aging parents.
- The long broad wings of the stork with a span of up to 185 centimetres allow it to soar gracefully through the sky.
- Some 14,000 storks are thought to make their home in the Algarve area of Portugal