Species conservation

White stork

The White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a well known and deeply loved bird.
We are so used to the cheerful bill clatter coming from the roof of the church or the electric pole in front of our grandmother’s country house that we take the heralds of spring for granted. The truth is that Storks are threatened by numerous threats on their way South and back, but also here in Bulgaria. Nowadays, more than half of the Stork nests in Bulgaria are built on functioning poles of the power-supply network. Sometimes, heavy branches cause short circuit, nests catch fire and burn down together with eggs or young birds, while hundreds of people are left without electricity until the damage is repaired. In some places, people deliberately destroy Stork nests, pulling them down from electric poles and chimneys, in order to avoid such problems. Without natural healthy trees to nest on and being chased away from the electric poles and eaves, Storks are left absolutely homeless.
Another problem is the illegal dumpsites in the vicinities of the settlements. Quite often adult birds choose “furniture” for their nests from pieces of strings, nylon, rugs, or carpets. Often, the patients received at our Wildlife Rescue Center are chicks that have grown up entangled in strings and ropes brought by their parents, unable to leave the nest, while their legs remain weak and malformed.

What we do
- count the nests – part of the International White Stork Census that is held once every 10 years. This helps to follow the species’ numbers and preferences, as well as the related threats and trends, so that the appropriate measures for its conservation can be undertaken. The numbers of White Storks can show much about the environment, food availability, etc. Besides, it provides precise information on the number of risky nests that need to be safeguarded with platforms.
- publish information materials – a book about the White Storks, a poster, stickers, and a brochure for children. The purpose of these materials is to remind us of the fact that Storks need our support so that they remain our neighbors and friends. In addition, the book was disseminated to lots of interested parties – Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters, Park Directorates, and NGOs, providing valuable information on the numbers and location of risky Stork nests that need to be safeguarded.
- mount platforms to safeguard risky nests built on functioning poles of the power-supply network and chimneys. We implement this activity in close cooperation with the subdivisions of the power-supply company, in particular EVN in Plovdiv and Stara Zagora, the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters, local Mayors and administrations, Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, “Railway Infrastructure” National Company – Energy Section Plovdiv, etc.
- European White Stork Village – Belozem village – announced by the international organization EURONATUR in 2005 as proposed by Green Balkans. This title was conferred because of the unique colony of 22 Stork nests on the roof of “Geo Milev” Primary School in the village of Belozem. There are 36 Stork pairs in the village, as some of the nests built on electric poles have already been rendered safe with platforms. For two years in a row, Green Balkans and the Belozem Village Council organize a unique Bulgarian White Stork Festival, where children from the whole municipality come to join the festivity and enjoy the birds.
- implement information and education activities – presentations on the White Stork in schools and kindergartens, as well as dissemination of information materials.
- apply medical treatment to Storks in distress in Bulgaria’s only Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center (Green Balkans – Stara Zagora), and release them back into the wild.

Results
- Census of the White Stork in 35% of the country’s territory in the period 2004-2005 within the 6th International Census of White Storks – 83 municipalities of 18 districts or a total of 1772 settlements covered by 38 field teams of Green Balkans. 1456 nests were recorded in total, 1298 of which belonged to breeding pairs. Compared to the results of 1994, this means a 6,3% increase of breeding pairs in the same territory.
- Green Balkans, in active cooperation with the Regional Inspectorates of Environment and Waters, local authorities, and the regional subdivisions of the power-supply company, mounted dozens of platforms to safeguard the risky White Stork nests.
- So far, more than 200 Storks were received at the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center at Green Balkans - Stara Zagora, most of which were released back into the wild.


How you can help
- By sending signals of risky and unguarded Stork nests built on functioning poles of the power-supply network, chimneys, or private buildings, whose owners want to chase them away;
- By sending signals and contributing to the transportation of White Storks in distress to Bulgaria’s only Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center;
- By participating in the information activities (presentations, dissemination of information materials, annual White Stork Festival in the village of Belozem);
- By taking part in other activities for the conservation of this species (census, mounting of platforms, signboards, etc.);
- By making a donation to any of the permanent patients of the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Breeding Center – namely, storks that cannot be fully recovered and released back into the wild.


Our activities for conservation of White Storks are implemented with the financial support of the Enterprise for Management of Environment Protection Activities at the Ministry of Environment and Waters, EURONATUR, Bulgarian Environmental Partnership Foundation, EVN – Bulgaria, Belozem Village Council.
Schemes for platforms to secure Stork nests located on electricity pylons (in Bulgarian) 97 Kb (pdf) download