First returner – Storch ‘ignited’ the turbo during the flight to Marchegg


They are the feathered harbingers of spring: the storks. The first Adebar of the season has already landed in Marchegg. A week earlier than last year. Experts view this with concern. Because they see the increasingly earlier return of migratory birds from the south due to climate change. And this also threatens the habitats of storks in Lower Austria.

This stork is truly a record-breaking flyer. A week earlier than last year and three weeks earlier than had been usual for years, he was the first ‘returnee’ to land in the external WWF reserve in Marchegg, in the Gänserdorf district.

Fastest “long-range airplane”
“This means that it has clearly surpassed its peers on the approximately 10,000 kilometer route from its winter home to here,” explains Jurrien Westerhof. By the way, Adebar was already the fastest long-distance flyer last year: “We recognized him by his ring,” says the WWF species protection expert.

Spring cleaning in nests
Westerhof attributes the fact that the storks are apparently returning earlier and earlier to March to the mild winters. Despite their earlier arrival, the storks in Marchegg will have plenty to do in the coming weeks. “Now they are preparing their old nests in the oak trees for the breeding season, which starts in April,” explains the WWF expert.

More breeding pairs in Marchegg
Last year was a good year for the Marchegg stork colony: 43 pairs successfully nested here, six more than in 2022. In total, WWF staff were able to count 92 young birds. This year we would like to keep an eye on the nests in the trees and on the roof of Marchegg Castle to see if the positive trend in the reserve continues. Here the birds find favorable living conditions. Westerhof: “This makes it easier for the storks to find food and leads to relatively high breeding success.”

Consequences of climate change
But the feathered harbingers of spring do not feel so at ease everywhere in the Weinviertel. Last year there were only six pairs of storks breeding in the March-Thaya floodplains, while at the best of times in the mid-1990s there were 35 pairs between Bernhardsthal and Angern alone. Expert Jurrien Westerhof sees this as a consequence of climate change: “Less snow falls here in winter, which means there are no spring floods. However, this changes the entire ecosystem of the floodplains.”

Source: Krone


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