Bocian Biały w dolinach rzek

A few years ago, together with the Biebrza National Park and the Łomża Landscape Park of the Narew Valley, we started studying white storks. The aim is to assess the effectiveness of restoring young animals that were brought to rehabilitation centers for wild animals to nature. This year we put transmitters on 4 birds. One of them flew over the Bosporus Strait yesterday!

So far, the results were not encouraging. Until now, the longest journey of one of the birds ended on the border of Bulgaria and Turkey. The bird was killed on a medium voltage line. This is the most common cause of death of young storks during migration. Not being killed in Syria or Lebanon. As a result of a fatal electric shock 8 out of 10 young storks will die in their first year. Almost all in Europe.

Simple methods of power grid security can change this. PTOP has developed a method that is fast and cheap. More and more poles are being properly secured. But it is still a drop in the ocean of needs. The whole migration route requires securing. We have this in mind. We hope to write about it one day

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pisklęStorks in nests are already quite big, but nature has its laws – accidents happen and a lot of chicks fall out of the nest.

Storks in nests are already quite big, but nature has its laws – accidents happen and a lot of chicks fall out of the nest. White storks lay up to 5 eggs and often already at the incubation stage they can predict how many chicks they will be able to feed. According to the stories we hear from the residents of Podlasie, parents are throwing eggs away as early as April, but if there is not enough food in the next months the weakest chicks are also thrown out of the nest. Farmers know these bird practices and predict the abundance of their crops according to storks’ behavior.

As part of the project "Protection of white stork in the river valleys of eastern Poland”, we have obtained funding for the renovation of bird rehabilitation centers in Grzędy in the Biebrza National Park and in Drozdowo at the headquarters of the Łomża Landscape Park of the Narew Valley. In the pictures you see a chick that fell out of the nest and fortunately did not suffer any injuries. This one and other birds brought to the center are taken care of by ŁPKDN employees. Storks tolerate stays in such bird hospitals well, they have no problems with eating and at the end of summer become independent enough to fly away with other birds.

Sometimes a little stork falls out of the nest by accident, maybe some other chicks wriggle too much. When such a chick is put back in the nest, it is accepted by the parents. Unfortunately, we never know when a chick falls out by accident and when it is simply thrown out of the nest. In Masuria, a few years ago, there was a successful case of adoption of chicks. During a storm a stork nest was destroyed and 3 chicks did not survive. The adult storks, however, immediately started to rebuild the nest, the PTOP workers built them a new platform, in two days the birds gathered the material and had a new nest, but without any chicks. After a brief thought, two orphaned little storks from the Albatros center in Bukwałd were put in the new nest and... adopted by the stork couple – here you can find a full description of this story:

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bociany wrocilyThis week the first white storks arrived in Podlasie.
Inhabitants of Uhowo (Podlasie, Narew River Valley in Narew National Park) reported us that there is a resident on our pole, installed in February this year.
We hope that he liked the nest. After all, the builders already have a lot of experience - since the beginning of the #LIFEciconia project they have prepared over 300 stork houses.

As part of the promotion of the project "Protection of white stork in the river valleys of eastern Poland" we recall old, folk customs.
In the past, on the occasion of the Annunciation, the housewives in Podlasie villages used to bake buns in the shape of stork's paws - Buslowe Łapy. These paws were then put in the nest as a gift for the birds returning from their migration.
A busioł (stork) brought children and happiness to the farm. The stork's nest was believed to prevent fire. In the times of thatched roofs people were very afraid of fires. "Busioł, busioł, here's your paw, here's your hut ".
The photos were taken during classes in the library in Sztabin


Buslowe łapy w Sztbienie Buslowe łapy w Sztbienie Buslowe łapy w Sztbienie


It is the beginning of March and white storks have already been on their way back to their nests for over a month. The birds are now over the Red Sea.
Oliwier Myka sent us pictures of white storks flying through Israel.
Good luck on this long journey!
Approximately 530,000 storks follow the eastern route, the so-called Via Pontica. This is the second largest bird migration route in Europe. The largest is the western one, leading through Gibraltar. Storks are still a very numerous species, among migrating birds only buzzards are more numerous.
In Podlasie we had reports of non-migrating storks that wintered in Poland. This year, because of the very mild winter, these birds won the lottery.
The bird in the pictures was spotted on March 9 near Gródek (Podlaskie Voivodeship, 40 km east of Białystok). The stork was flying - gliding - at high altitude, so it is probably also a "migratory" bird, only his distance from the wintering site was much shorter.

10 marca bociany białe Izrael 10 marca bociany biale Izrael

1The village of Rakowo Czachy near Łomża has been enriched with a fourth tourist attraction. So far it had three: a bend of the Narew River with a forest on the horizon, a ferry across the river and storks in the nest, which have been watched on-line by people from 90 countries from around the world. Meanwhile in the neighborhood, on the last day of January, an observation tower, lofty and strong like a fortress and almost 8-meter high, was consecrated and sprinkled with holy water and rain. It stands over a wide – 2 and a half kilometers – section of the Narew Valley. It shines with healthy pine wood, used to erect the structure, and enables the local residents and tourists to admire the quiet landscapes from the high terrace while watching local and migrating birds flying over the meadows. On the day of consecration, naturalists came to Rakowo and Drozdowo.

Director Mariusz Sachmaciński from the Łomża Landscape Park of the Narew Valley (Łomżyński Park Krajobrazowy Doliny Narwi) stood bravely in the pouring rain as subsequent guests were coming. The list of people who love nature and care about the environment was long, and the director said a few good words about each one of them. The event gathered employees and social activists from, among others, the Landscape Park of the Narew Valley and the Association of the Friends of the Park, the Board of the Landscape Park of the Narew Valley with its chairman Józef Mioduszewski, from the Natural History Museum with the naturalist Teresa Grużewska, from the Łomża State Forest District with the forest district manager Dariusz Godlewski, from the Association of the Friends of the Łomża Land with its chairman Zygmunt Zdanowicz. Among the people from Łomża and the district, it was easy to notice the faces of people, less known but significant for the care of the natural heritage, from the Environmental Protection Department of the Marshal's Office, in the absence of Marek Olbryś, whom Director Sachmaciński gratefully described as “brilliant”. He referred to the fact that according to the project the observation tower in Rakowo was to cost PLN 70 thousand, and in fact it cost PLN 105 thousand, and the missing money was found in the budget, as if from a magic hat, by a member of the Board of the Province.

A nest from a barn or a tree to a pole

The project was described to the guests, hidden under the green tent of the Park of the Narew Valley, by the invaluable Sylwia Sokalska, who provided a lot of information about the Park of the Narew Valley, which was created in 1994 and has an area of 7 368 hectares. The project consisted of many activities which performed over a period of 4 years, and it was initiated by the Polish Society for the Protection of Birds (PTOP) in Białystok in 2016 and will be conducted until July 2020 in cooperation with the Park of the Narew Valley and the Biebrza National Park (Biebrzański Park Narodowy). - The project "Protection of white stork in the river valleys of eastern Poland" covers Biebrza, Bug and Narew rivers as well as some smaller rivers – says Edyta Kapowicz, director of the PTOP, who came to the ceremony with employees of the Society that is so merited for the protection and care of birds. - The protection of storks means, for example, moving 400 of their nests from endangered places, such as dilapidated buildings or broken trees to concrete poles, which were erected in a number of 300... They must be strong and durable, as stork nests sometimes weigh 300 kilograms, and sometimes even two tons.

9 poles with a height of over 10 m to 12 m were erected in Kalinowo, Drozdowo, Rakowo Czachy, Rakowo Boginie, Bronowo Podkosacze and Siemień. Under the project, also the wooden tower in Rakowo Czachy near the bend of the Narew River was financed, from where you can see the ski slope in Rybno on the right side above the forest range. It will constitute a convenient point for observation of, for example, white-tailed eagles, geese, ducks, ruffs or herons, if an observer is lucky enough, just like 700 thousand observers of white storks in the nest on a nearby property, but not in winter.

Outdoor area for patients and the path to knowledge

Before the green ribbon was cut multiple times, which inaugurated the entrance by stairs from the ground floor to the tower floor with dimensions of 5.5 x 4 meters, a speech on integral ecology was given by Rev. Aleksander Suchocki. He emphasized that blessing has the direction from Earth to Heaven and from Heaven to Earth. In the act of consecration of the tower, he indicated the respect for nature and birds, so that the structure would be safe and serve the good work of getting to know the native land, and so that the visitors would leave enriched by beauty.

At the headquarters of the Park of the Narew Valley in Drozdowo there is a unique bird rehabilitation center where sick, injured or weakened storks can find shelter, care and food. During the renovation, the center was expanded with an ambulatory part, furniture, as well as veterinary and stork catching equipment, such as gloves, nets and transport cages. Near the entrance, an aviary and an outdoor area for stork patients and convalescents were created; the number of birds here sometimes reaches 50-60 including other birds. Director Mariusz Sachmaciński thanked his crew for being on duty on Saturdays and Sundays to feed the winged patients. The educational path that shows the life of storks, an Indian summer, a beaver lodge and a swamp also aroused interest. It serves the little and grown-up nature explorers.

The author: Mirosław R. Derewońko

The text and pictures are from the website

The second account from the opening of the tower can be found on the website

1These objects pose a huge threat to birds, especially in areas where birds travel intensively during migration. To increase the visibility of wires, colorful markers with reflectors were suspended on the highest, lightning protection line using a drone; the markers whirl freely in the wind. The first line, over 700 m long, running over the Narew River near the village of Ruś, was secured in 2018. Before and after the suspension of markers, we monitored the effectiveness of protection (using a radar); the results indicate that birds flying through the valley in large flocks, such as ruffs, notice the wires and change their flight path once the markers are installed. By now, three more sections have been secured: (1) Biebrza Valley near Sztabin and (2) Osowiec, and (3) Narew River Valley near the village of Narew.

Task C.2 was performed in cooperation with PGE Dystrybucja S.A. Białystok Branch and the Biebrza National Park



A lot of work and completed tasks are already behind us. We have gained a lot of interesting experience and knowledge, so it is time for summaries. On 16-17 November 2019, the "International conference on the protection of the white stork" was held. At the meeting we summarized the project and the latest knowledge about the white stork, including in particular the issues related to the practical conservation of the species. Among the speakers, apart from the project workers, there were representatives of institutes and universities from Poland and abroad, as well as members of the White Stork Research Group. On Sunday we invited the participants to the field part, where we presented some of the tasks completed within the project, such as nests moved from endangered locations, electrical equipment protected against electric shock, retrofitted and renovated Animal Rehabilitation Center in Grzędy in the Biebrza National Park. Taking advantage of the favorable circumstances of nature, we went for a walk along the educational path Dunes on the Red Swamp. We would like to thank the speakers for their very interesting speeches and all the participants for their valuable comments and fruitful discussions.


In 2019 we visited the “AQUILA a-LIFE - Accomplish Western Mediterranean Bonelli's Eagle recovery by working together for an electricity grid suitable for birds” LIFE 16 NAT/ES/000235 project implemented throughout Spain, in a part of France and in Sardinia.

The main beneficiary of the project is the non-governmental organization GREFA (Grupo de Rehabilitacion de la Fauna Autoctona y su Habitat) – The team dealing with the restitution of native fauna and the environment employs over 30 people, and its activities are also supported by a group of volunteers. This institution runs a large animal rehabilitation center near Madrid. Several thousand birds, mammals and reptiles are being brought there annually, including foxes, rabbits, hares, red and roe deers, hedgehogs, turtles, and birds such as white storks, young swifts in large numbers (up to 3000 individuals) and predators: buzzards, vultures, owls. The center is huge, located in a few buildings on an area of approx. 10 hectares. There is a hospital and aviaries for treated and rehabilitated animals, rooms for ecological education, aviaries for handicapped birds, which will stay here for the rest of their lives, such as griffon and cireneous vultures, barn owls, lesser kestrels, golden and imperial eagles, Egyptian vulture, Bonelli’s eagle and short-toed snake eagle, Eurasian pygmy owl. Therefore there are many things to see. Moreover, birds are placed in interesting arrangements, reminiscent of places where they normally occur, e.g. an old abandoned house for barn owls or a rural farmyard for kestrels.

Storks treated in Biebrza National Park rehabilitation center in Grzędy will be tracked this year as well.

This time, tracking devices were put on three young birds. The goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of stork treatment in such centers, and their behavior after leaving them.

Unfortunately, I do not bring any good news: so far none of the birds have reached Africa. They all either died on power lines or were killed by predators. The mounted tracking devices are the "recovered" ones. We asked our befriended ornithologists from other countries to search for dead storks and send us the attached transmitters back, or if the birds died in Poland, we looked for them ourselves.

This bleak picture shows the enormous importance of the Life project, which aims to secure all dangerous utility poles.

We hope that a successful flight awaits those three! Keep your fingers crossed!


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Sekretariat PTOP

ul. Ciepła 17 15-471 Białystok tel./fax.: 85 664 22 55, 85 6754862

Biuro Regionalne w Olsztynie

ul. Murzynowskiego 18, 10-684 Olsztyn, tel./fax.: 89 533 68 66

Gospodarstwo rolne PTOP

Żywkowo 7 11-220 Górowo Iławeckie tel./fax.: 89 761 82 07

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