As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Saturday 2 March 2013

White storks have stopped migrating - New project to discover why?

Portuguese white storks now rely on rubbish dumps instead of migrating
February 2013. A new project to find out why storks are changing their migratory patterns has been launched by the University of East Anglia. In folklore, storks' strong white wings would carry babies to parents around the world. But since the mid 1980s increasing numbers of storks have stopped their annual migration from Northern Europe to Africa for the winter. Instead, many are living in Spain and Portugal the whole year round - feeding on ‘junk food' from rubbish dumps.

Climate change?
The project will track 15 adult white storks for a year using GPS loggers to investigate why they have changed their migratory behaviour. Researchers will investigate the link between climate change and feeding habits to predict future distribution of the species.
The birds have been caught in Portugal and tagged with loggers which will transmit five positions every day. This data will allow researchers to track the storks' movement between roosting and feeding areas and detect long and short distance flights. Each tracker will also collect information about how much time the birds spend with their heads down, foraging for food.

Dr Aldina Franco, from UEA's school of Environmental Sciences, is leading the project. She said: "These birds have changed their behaviour very radically. The number of storks spending their winter in Portugal has increased hugely from around 1,180 birds in 1995 to more than 10,000 in 2008 and numbers continue to grow."


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