back to article Storks bin migration for junk food diet

Storks which nest on the Iberian Peninsula are increasingly rejecting the annual migration south to Africa in favour of spending the winter at their nesting sites, thanks to the ready availability of landfill "junk food". Portugal, for example, currently has 14,000 overwintering white storks (Ciconia ciconia), which would …

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This will cause a problem for the storks

Some other day. The buggers are extremely adaptable.

Any source of food - they are there. Like vultures in India and Brazil with the difference that they also kill anything up to a rabbit in size while eating rubbish and carrion when they come across it.

The new all-year-round farming methods provide an alternative food supply to rubbish dumps. There are 20-odd storks walking behind a tractor on average nowdays in Eastern and Central Europe (thanks to much lower use of pesticides). Anything the tractor or combined harvester spooks as it ploughs, seeds, cultivates (or whatever else it does) is terminated on the spot. While they are lovely birds, watching a full size rabbit wriggling speared on the beak is not for the people that have weak stomachs. Neither is the process of it being swallowed whole by the stork after that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will cause a problem for the storks

Lovely birds? Those ones on the dump look skanky as hell.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This will cause a problem for the storks

>>decimate a colossal amount of crop

Interesting, do they stop at 10% then? maybe that's some like, European quota?

>>With out doubt they are the number one pest species for farmers

Or they could let the foxes eat them?

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Re: This will cause a problem for the storks

I always separate the punishment of decimation (which was the execution of the NCOs, by their own squad) versus it's usage for "bad shit happening".

Same as "exceptions proving the rule", with both exception and rule having changed meaning since it's adoption.

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Re: This will cause a problem for the storks

@MonkeyCee - nope. It was the execution of one in ten men of a Roman unit that had disgraced itself in battle. It wasn't specific to any particular rank, and certainly would not have been the execution of NCOs by their own troops, as that would have encouraged mutiny.

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Rubbish nests too

I noticed in Marrakech that the Storks use a lot of waste in their nests, fabric, rope, whatever. They were all defending their nests in early February. Guess they have a good junk food diet in Morocco as well.

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round here the local landfill attracted so many gulls that we ended up with one of the biggest breeding colonies in Europe, and also one of the highest rates of gut disease due to birdshit in the water supply (which ran off the hills)

Now the landfill has been closed and capped, most of the gulls have gone, and so have the shits

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Anonymous Coward

> most of the gulls have gone, and so have the shits

Could something similar work for Westminster?

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Are they sure its just food?

It could partly be down to rising winter temperatures on the Iberian peninsula due to climate change.

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Re: Are they sure its just food?

Reasonable question, I suppose it's answered by what usually drives the migration. For storks, I guess the results here show it is food, however I've certainly read stories in the past about other migrations being broken by changing weather patterns, or at least food availability caused by changing weather patterns. There are several species of migratory butterfly in the Americas, for example, which are starting to get lazy as the regular seasons get a bit mushy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Are they sure its just food?

Lazy butterflies you say? Take away their migration benefits. Let the market sort it out.

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Re: Are they sure its just food?

What rising winter temperature down here? This has been the coldest winter for many years, the snow is further down the mountain than it has been since 2006.

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Re: Are they sure its just food?

"What rising winter temperature down here? This has been the coldest winter for many years, the snow is further down the mountain than it has been since 2006."

So? We're talking long term averages here, not one specific year. As a counter example in 2014 you had the worst summer drought in 150 years. Check out the graphs of rising average temps in europe.

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Re: Are they sure its just food?

> We're talking long term averages here.

Oh no, more climate fallacies. The article makes it clear this is a very recent phenomenon, not a "long-term" one.

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Re: Are they sure its just food?

"The article makes it clear this is a very recent phenomenon, not a "long-term" one."

Yes, and landfill has been around for decades so why now? Possibly the average winter temps have now reached what the birds find tolerable.

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Lazy butterflies

When Trump takes office the Monarch butterflies that overwinter in southern Mexico may want to stay back in the US, lest the border guards shoot them when they try to return in the spring!

It has always amazed me that something so small and fragile that it can't even fly into a moderate breeze travels 3000 miles from where I live and back again every year. There are a lot fewer of them about than I recall as a kid, apparently the small area where they set up shop in the winter is under development and their habitat is reduced every year.

Their food source in the US is also restricted, as the milkweed they feed on is killed by pesticides and high crop prices caused farmers to try to plant every acre possible. So now people are deliberately seeding roadside ditches with milkweed to help them out, hopefully Mexico will do their part and preserve some of their wintering grounds.

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Re: Are they sure its just food?

The phenomena is recent because it takes time for the birds to adjust their behavior. The few that stayed behind with prime nesting locations prospered and reproduced in greater numbers than the ones that went away for the winter, and now they are many. Whether they adjusted their behavior due to climate, or food availability, or both isn't known.

If food availability is restricted in the landfill you'll find out, though you may need to wait a while to be sure since it will take time for them to readjust their behavior. If they keep sticking around then it was about the climate, if they eventually stop doing that then it was about the food.

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Thumb Up

Re: Are they sure its just food?

I was looking for that very question and if you know more about what is going on in Northern Europe it's more or less obvious that climate change has to be part of it.

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Angel

Canadian geese here, due to reintroduction program

Migratory Canadian Geese were having problems, declining numbers and whatnot. So here in Georgia (American South) a bunch of them were released as a reintroduction program. We're on their migration route, so it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Problem is, the weather is so mild here that they can live here year-round. So now we have a separate population of non-migrating resident Canadian geese. In fact, they're thriving, and have reached nuisance proportions. Last year it became legal to hunt them.

Migratory animals were driven to do so at one point by certain pressures or advantages. It's not a requirement that they do so. Change the conditions and they will alter or abandon the migration.

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Headmaster

Re: Canadian geese here, due to reintroduction program

Canadian geese

Have you checked their birth certificates? They may be Canada geese born in the U.S. Don't worry, eh? We'll build a high wall along the Canadian border and make Trudeau pay for it.

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Re: Canadian geese here, due to reintroduction program

If the Canuks take Ted Cruz back I'll help pay for the wall. Just make sure that he stays in ye Great White North.

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Re: Canadian geese here, due to reintroduction program

Geese can survive the cold just fine, they fly south for food. I live well north of you where it usually gets below 0F a half dozen nights each winter and we have year round local populations of geese as well, because there are enough people who feed them that they have no need to migrate. We had them when I was a kid too, so this isn't a new phenomena.

I find it humorous that you had a reintroduction program because you missed them, now think there are too many and hunt them. You sure the hunters didn't plan that all along? Maybe they will 'reintroduce' Elk and Bison in Georgia next :)

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Childcatcher

Re: Canadian geese here, due to reintroduction program

Damned Canadian geese, taking jobs from good, American birds!

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Re: Canadian geese here, due to reintroduction program

THINK there are too many? Come visit, mate! Come visit parks where you don't dare walk on the grass anymore due to a carpet of thumb-sized slimy goose turds. Visit my pond where they drive the native mallards away. Anything can become a nuisance when their population explodes.

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Canada geese?

now officially regarded as a pest species in the UK

funny thing is, while some populations are sedentary, others have reverted to a cut-down migratory habit, flying to Scotland in summer. Might be something to do with different founding stock: there are something like six different sub-species, and our are a mix of hybrids

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Parakeets

Here in UK we'll soon find out whether the resident parakeets are hooked on sugar when Osborne's budget measures kick-in.

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Joke

Damned African migrants.

Taking over our rubbish tips without permission.

Never past Calais!

Yes, look --->

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