Ferrel: Only nine years ago the first brood of a white stork in the region was celebrated in Rietberg. Meanwhile, people have long been accustomed to seeing the one-meter-high wading in this country. Especially in Verl: The white stork watching the SC Verl game at home from the floodlights of the sports club arena has been a familiar sight for a few years.
And when the young animals gather at the end of summer before they fly south, more than a dozen birds can sometimes be spotted foraging in the meadows around Ludger Bremehr’s organic farm. But this is exactly where the problem lies: in recent times, many young animals have starved to death because the food supply in the cultural landscape is not enough for everyone. And no one knows exactly how many pairs of white storks are currently at home in the area.
Storks are among the endangered birds
“They nest everywhere, in the surrounding trees and on the roof of our house,” Premier says. Doesn’t say exactly how many there are. Only a lot: “The number is increasing every year, although we do nothing about it.” A year before the success of a pair of white Rietberg storks on his farm, the farmer later announced this. In 2012, there were three pairs of wild storks attracted to breeding storks he kept in a bird cage. Birds feel safe in society, their number has increased over the years.
But while many people were happy with Master Adebar’s return, the Red List bird, still classified as a Vulnerable, was not well received by others. There are farmers and hunters, as with ornithologist Frank Buchel Welling of the two-year-old Bielefeld-Gutersloh Biological Station, who consider storks a red cloth because they claim they eat other animals worth protecting — wings and chicks, for example. “This is claimed without any evidence,” says Bushell Welling. Bremer also made these accusations cautiously.
It is not recommended to use nesting aids
That is why even the Bielefeld Gütersloh Biological Station does not know the population size of the Premier Farm. In the rest of the area, ornithologists counted 27 breeding pairs last year, says the bio-station chief, Bernard Walter. And so this number doubled in just four years: in 2017 there were 13. In the city of Verl alone, there were “seven to eight breeding pairs” in 2021.
Bernhard Walter now advises against creating additional nesting aids for white storks. In recent years, breeding success has been poor, and often one in three or four chicks survives. According to the German Conservation Union (NABU), the daily requirement for an adult white stork is 500 to 700 grams of food; This corresponds to about 16 mice or 500 to 700 earthworms. For each small animal in its nest, an adult bird must carry an extra 1,600 grams per day – things get tight in our landscapes, which are dominated by fields.
A familiar nest used for years
Storks use their usual eyes over the years and go hunting in its immediate vicinity. Younger couples need to look for something new. For this, they do not necessarily choose the means of nesting provided by humans. For a few weeks now, anyone walking the Sürenheider Straße between Helfgerdsiedlung and the roundabout next to the parish church has been able to watch a pair of storks breed on the mobile mast there. It is uncertain whether this will work at 30 metres. “It often doesn’t work out in the first two years,” Bernard Walter says.
Telekom subsidiary Deutsche Funkturm (DFMG), which built the mast at the end of 2019 and put it into operation in mid-2020, is showing interest in the birds. “During the breeding season, we are deferring maintenance work and discussing how to proceed with the Nature Conservancy and stork officers,” says Bruno Jacobferborn, CEO of DFMG. “This way we ensure neither mobile coverage nor offspring is disturbed. We see this as part of our environmental responsibility.” Only when storks leave their nest during the year should a decision be made in consultation with the authorities as to whether the eyrie can remain between the mobile antennas or whether it should be moved.