Young White Storks from Hungary delight locals in Mgarr

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Young White Storks from Hungary delight locals in MgarrBirdLife Malta Raptor Camp teams and the police this morning escorted three White Storks to safety, watching them as they spiralled high into the clouds before heading out to sea.

The storks came to Malta yesterday afternoon, stopping for a while on residential roofs before settling for the night on the floodlights of the Mgarr football pitch. Perched just metres above the road they attracted a lot of attention, quickly drawing admiring onlookers.

“The community spirit was impressive; families watched the birds, people drove up from the surrounding areas just to see them, cameras were everywhere. We set up telescopes and invited the public to watch the storks through them – around 200 people took up the offer and it was fantastic seeing their enthusiasm.” stated Bob Elliot, RSPB Scotland Head of Investigations and Raptor Camp team member.Young White Storks from Hungary delight locals in MgarrBirdlife said that Raptor Camp teams and the police who stayed with the birds through the night were joined in the early hours of the morning by several locals. Teams were even offered coffee through the night by residents appreciative of their protecting these birds.

“Rare birds are highly prized by poachers and often shot at night. The storks’ visible location and the strong public presence have undoubtedly helped to protect them – the result is a rare success story where the birds not only delighted viewers, but also safely left the islands.” said Geoffrey Saliba, BirdLife Malta Campaigns Coordinator.

All three White Storks had metal rings, clearly visible even without optical equipment. Bird watchers read the uniquely number rings using telescopes, managing to identify each bird.

Birdlife said that the result is an important discovery which for the first time shows that White Storks which migrate over Malta originate from Hungary. Two of the young storks were taken to a rescue centre after falling out of their nests; the third was born to a flightless pair at the centre. All three were released back into the wild.

This is the second sighting in Malta this year of birds ringed as chicks in Hungary, after a Hungarian Spoonbill was shot dead in the Salina Bird Sanctuary in June.

Commenting on the White Storks sighting in Malta, Mr Zsolt Karcza, head of Hungary’s ringing scheme said “A lot of effort has gone into protecting these storks in Hungary and we are grateful to all of the people in Malta for watching over them during their stay. We hope that on their return migration the vigilant BirdLife team will ensure they are able to travel home safely.”Young White Storks from Hungary delight locals in Mgarr“Today’s good news is tempered by bad news from yesterday morning when a shot Black Stork was recovered from the sea near Zurrieq by an ALE team. A shot Grey Heron was also recovered from the area. Both birds are protected species and may not be hunted. The Black Stork died shortly after recovery, and the Grey Heron was euthanised due to the extent of its injuries,” Birdlife concluded.

Photos : White Storks – Bob Elliot, Storks on floodlights – Steve Miller, Black Stork – Lawrie Phipps/BirdLife Malta.

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    4 Responses

    1. Lesley Kreupl says:

      How fantastic if the whole archipelago could be declared as a bird sanctuary once and for all.
      I concede that it would be hard on the legal hunters, but I am sure they would eventually find more pleasure in simply watching and photographing birds than in massacring and stuffing them.
      This would be advantageous to the whole population and many visitors.
      A pipe-dream surely, but if enough people cared and voiced their opinions, it could become reality!

    2. István Magyar says:

      Hello from Hungary! Storks are in Hungary just a kind of “holy” birds. Nobody would think to shot them. I always wonder, how can a people, like the Maltese, a very religious people, find joy in massacring small and great birds like storks. Birds are wonderful creaturs of God, with abilities, which are higher that those of mankind. In Hungary we have a village, where a nest of stork is watching by a camera during 24 hours per day. We can see the life of a stork family from the nearest distance. I would recommand this for every Maltese person who are interested in natural wonders and even for hunters of bird for becoming mankind instead of animal. The web- address is:, or write simply into google: nagyhalászi gólyakamera

    3. Jane says:

      Istvan – Thank you for the link. I think there will be many Maltese people who will enjoy watching your storks. It’s a small minority who enjoy the hunting and killing of these lovely animals and I believe in time, with the encouragement of the Government, this tradition will die out even here.

    4. Edith says:

      Dear Maltese people, many thanks to all of you for protecting our beloved storks. Edith from Hungary.

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