Oriental Storks survive fire

The number of wildfires burning during the summer of 2021 has boosted concern for the birds and wildlife being impacted. For the past three days there has been constant reporting in Europe on the state of migrating storks passing over Greece. They are dying or, if not dead, being taken into care for smoke inhalation. It is tragic. In Canada and the Pacific Northwest, nestlings died during the heat wave at the end of May that triggered a number of fires. Some Coopers hawks in that region began jumping out of their nests when temperatures reached almost 50 degrees C.

When an area begins to burn, most of the birds will fly away from the fire to a nearby safe spot. Not all birds can fly – nestlings will be killed. Smoke inhalation may cause long term damage to the lungs of the birds and, as we have seen in 2020 in the SW United States and now in Greece, fires impact birds that are migrating. The fires and smoke can kill them. Indeed, there have been so many fires in recent years that it is difficult not to remember specific birds that have been impacted. Anyone watching Iniko as the forest around his Redwood nest burned during the Dolan Fire will understand the problem as well as those who saw the koalas caught in the fires in Australia. Birds and animals get displaced during fires and while the forests will grow and again provide shelter and food, it is the immediate impact – loss of nests and nestlings, the heat, death or smoke damaging lungs that is so horrific. No one appears to know the long term impact of smoke inhalation on birds.

On the 13th of May 2019 a male Far Eastern Stork saved his five storklings in Siberia. It made news around the world. Humans started the fire. The lesson the video teachs us is that artificial bird nests should be made out of materials that will survive wildfires. I wonder how high they should be to afford the benefit that the nest below does to Father Stork and his five babies.

Each of you has seen the storks in Europe who love to be around humans. They roost and make their nest on the homes of humans and sometimes, even are cared for by humans. The Far Eastern or Oriental Stork, Ciconia boyciana) does not like to be around humans. It will make its nest as far away from us as it can. Sometimes on the outskirts of forest areas, near lakes and marshes so it can feed its young.

The Oriental Stork is larger than the European White stork. Normally weighing 2.8 to 5.9 kg (or 6.2 to 13 lbs). It has a wingspan of 2.2 metres (7.3 ft). You can immediately tell the difference between a European White Stork and an Oriental stork by the red skin around the eye of the Oriental Stork, the whitish iris and its black bill.

“Oriental Stork” by ltshears is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Far Eastern or Oriental stork is is extremely rare. It used to live in Russia, areas of China, and in Japan and Korea. Today, it is found only in the eastern areas of Russia where 95% breeds in the Amur-Heilong river area. It winters on Yangtze River in China. The other small percentage of birds breed in the Northeast of China. There is good reason for the stork not to trust humans. It was poached, it was shot, and it was killed by herbicide use.

“東方白鸛 (Ciconia boyciana#Oriental Stork)” by Lin Sun-Fong is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Here is a time lapse image of our hero’s nest from wee storklings to fledge. It is very short. Have a look at those babies fly off! They are gorgeous.

This morning was a great one. It looks like the little Osprey on the Collins Marsh nest in Wisconsin had a nice crop! Malin woke up and found an old fish tail and ate it – oh, this chick reminds me so much of Tiny Tot at the Achieva Nest. Then Dad flew in with either a small fish or ? . It appeared Malin ate it all and then Mom flew in and fed Malin some more fish. An hour of so later, Dad flew in with another fish for Malin to self-feed. Gosh. Malin with a crop! It is rare like the Far Eastern or Oriental Stork. So happy!

And then Dad flew in with another fish. Fantastic. What a great beginning of the day. It is not even noon yet on the nest. Dad looks like he has a good crop, too.

My friend ‘S’ from Hawaii gave me a gift last night. She didn’t realize how special it was. She sent me the link to a documentary on YouTube. It is the story of a young man who decades later returns in his 60s to document the Philippine Eagles. The scenery in the forests of the Philippines is gorgeous as are the other animals that live there. So instead of a Netflix moment next time, why not check this out? The Cornell Bird Lab helped with the production. Here is the link to the trailer:

To watch the full movie, go to “Birds of Prey Philippine Eagle full movie” on YouTube. They will not allow me to embed the link to the full length movie on this blog.

There is another 25 minute documentary on the Philippine Eagle here:

Check out those amazing birds!

All of the birds seem to be doing what they always do! Tiny Little is on the Foulshaw Moss Nest wanting prey. She is now the most dominant bird on that nest. Another great third hatch. So far our worries are only with the Storks leaving for their migration who are passing over Greece. Voting continues at the Collins Marsh nest for the chick that a group of us have been calling Malin meaning ‘little warrior’. There is still time to vote. Head over to the Neustadter Nature Centre FB page and the second posting. You will see the names. Add your choice of a name in the comments. Don’t like, write the name in. So far, Malin is leading the pack of votes but, not by much. The sea eagles are fine and Dad’s injuries are looking good.

Thank you for joining me this morning. Take care. See you soon.

Thank you to the Collins Marsh Osprey Cam where I took my screen shots and to ‘S’ who sent me the link to Birds of Prey.

Featured image is the Philippine Eagle. Here is the credit to the person who took this beautiful image: “Philippine Eagle” by billydl is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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