The European stork village Rühstädt has drastic concerns for its offspring – drought is making things difficult for birds

Birds suffer from dehydration

The European stork village Rühstädt has radical problems with young people

Monday 04.07.22 | 11:23 am | to Wolfgang Alps

Wolfgang Alps

Audio: rbb24 Inforadio | 06/30/2022 | Jenny Park | picture: Wolfgang Alps

The number of baby storks around Rühstädt in der Prignitz, the village with the largest population of storks in Germany, is particularly low this summer. Because of the increasingly dry soil, animals lack an important food. Written by Wolfgang Albus

Rühstädt in der Prignitz bears the name “European Stork Village”. The reason the village has the largest population of storks in Germany is the nearby Elbe meadows. Indeed a paradise for storks to find food. However, dry meadows make it difficult for birds to find food this summer.

And so the village shrinks.

Little storks playing dead (Source: Wolfgang Albus)
picture: Wolfgang Alps

Fewer and fewer offspring in Al Ain

One, two or three? This is the troubling question currently being asked by the team of the Union for the Conservation of Nature (NAPO), which has set up a visitor center in Rohstadt especially due to the large number of storks in front of an eye. How many small storks will you find when the small animals climb with a moving lifting platform?

This always happens in early summer. Just before the storks excrete, they are shaved. The sign is considered internationally standardized and subsequently allows to draw conclusions about the flight paths of birds. Dead animals can also be customized.

Nabu Rühstädt . Visitor Center

Newhouse 9

19322 Rohstadt

Tel. 03 87 91/806555

Inquiries by email

Information, opening times and access to the main page

Guided tours are offered regularly during the summer months, starting at the visitor center.

Resonance provides the opportunity to make a preliminary estimate of the number of animals. The trend is down significantly. In 1999, conservationists counted 85 baby birds from 37 pairs of storks. Last year, there were only 37 baby birds among the 26 pairs of storks. This time there are 27 pairs and so far only 18 baby birds. How many of these survived is uncertain. The situation is no better in the surrounding villages of Brienitz. The fact that experts found three storks in the eyrie is the big exception to this year’s ringing.

Consequences of climate change and land use

In times of starvation, storks throw non-viable offspring from the nest. This has given a bad reputation to animals. Wrong, experts say. You will observe a loving family life among the storks.

Jan Dirks, head of the visitor center, sees the population of young storks declining not only as a result of drought caused by climate change. He also sees this as a result of land use, which continues to reduce the food supply of storks. He would like to see a rethink of cultivation. Groundwater irrigation should be reduced, as well as water-intensive cultivation of corn. It also considers soil drainage in the spring to be a major problem. It starts early and earlier so that farmers can reach the fields with their heavy machinery.

Earthworms are absent

In dry soil, earthworms, a favorite food of storks, are especially deficient. An adult stork needs about 16 mice or 500 earthworms per day to feed itself.

Even when it rains in Brandenburg, there is often a huge shower going on without soaking the ground. Dirks sees an additional problem in the very low water levels of the Elbe River. The river brings little water, especially after winter. Regular moderate flooding helps the landscape, but is increasingly absent.

Stork feeding at Prignitz (Source: Wolfgang Albus)

Best place for stork friends

Despite all the concerns, Rühstädt is still worth a trip for bird lovers. The place is considered one of the best places in Europe for watching big birds. When the animals circle the Elbe meadows with their wingspan of about two meters or follow the tractors in the mowed meadows, they are visible from afar and the attractiveness of the area.

Broadcast: Anten Brandenburg, July 3, 2022, 2:00 p.m.

Contribution from Wolfgang Albus

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