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Storks. Nationwide counting of storks. You can apply. They are looking for 2.5 thousand people

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You can take part in the nationwide count of white storks. Scientists and ornithologists from the White Stork Research Group are looking for 2.5 thousand volunteers for a large project that is carried out every 10 years. The collected data will help to better protect this species. The last census shows that the number of storks in our country has decreased, although there are more and more of them in the world.

The International White Stork Census will be held for the eighth time. As explained by the coordinator of the action in our country, Dr. Marcin Tobółka from the University of Life Sciences in… Poznań, information on the number of storks is needed for practical protection of the species. It will be used for many years to come, including in spatial planning activities, for example roads, the construction of which sometimes requires the relocation of nests.

The census in Poland will be coordinated by scientists and ornithologists who have been dealing with storks for many years, associated with the White Stork Research Group. They are currently recruiting volunteers from all over Poland who will go into the field. Ultimately, over 2.5 thousand of them are needed, as there are so many communes in our country that constitute the basic area unit covered by the counting.

“You need to check whether the nest is occupied and what the hatching effect is”

Volunteers will be familiarized with the counting method. They must have binoculars and a mobile phone to transfer data on an ongoing basis to the nationwide database (paper forms can also be used). It’s good to have a car to move around the assigned area efficiently.

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– It’s not just about counting nests. You also need to check whether the nest is occupied and what the hatching effect is. This can only be verified by being on site – emphasized the coordinator of the work in Mazovia, Dr. Ireneusz Kaługa from the EcoLogical Group from Siedlce.

The counting will last from mid-June to mid-July. Volunteers will then visit all nests in the communes and record the effects of breeding.

– All data will be entered into a nationwide database. We have prepared one method for converting data. I hope that by the end of 2024 we will know an approximate estimate of the number of birds in our country, said Dr. Tobółka.

There are fewer storks in Poland, but there are more and more of them in the world

In recent years, the number of storks in Poland has been decreasing, which results, for example, from the monitoring of flag birds in Poland. – Our models also show that between 2004 and 2014, the number of storks in Poland decreased: from approximately 52,000 pairs to approximately 45-46,000 pairs – said Dr. Tobółka.

The population is decreasing especially in the west, “although some communes, for example in Podlasie, are large and heavily populated – they may even have over 200 nests,” said Ireneusz Kaługa.

Much depends on the agricultural model, which in eastern voivodeships is still based on traditional agriculture and small farms. The large-scale crops that dominate in western Poland do not support biodiversity. Western Poland is clearly losing storks, the declines there have been enormous in recent years. In 2014, it was shown that in some western voivodeships the number of storks decreased by as much as 30-40%. in the perspective of several years.

Marcin Tobółka noticed that the number of storks is increasing worldwide. This happens, for example, in Western Europe, where previously densities were very low. Currently, the growth there is as much as 200-300 percent over several years. Such growth can be seen, among others, in some German states, where until recently only one to two pairs of birds lived.

This increase is due to, among others, This is due to the fact that some storks no longer fly to Africa for the winter, but remain on the Iberian Peninsula, feeding on garbage dumps. And it is the migration period that poses the greatest threat to birds – e.g. because they get electrocuted while trying to rest on the route on electric traction.

White storksShutterstock

They willingly feed on garbage dumps

As Dr. Tobółka pointed out, storks also in Poland have learned to feed on garbage dumps. – Research shows that the number of storks increases in the West Pomeranian and Pomeranian Voivodeships, where there are open waste landfills. The former Leszno Voivodeship, where monitoring has been carried out since 1974 – indicate that old nests, empty for years, are being repopulated. But only those near landfills, he explained.

– Birds use landfills as granaries, compensating for the loss of their preferred habitats. In the areas where there are landfills, there are more and more storks and new nests appear. The census (statistical census) will allow us to check this observation and assess whether the increase in the number of birds near landfills is a local or nationwide phenomenon, the scientist added.

Stork calendarMaciej Zieliński, Adam Ziemienowicz/PAP

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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