A stork that couldn’t fly

A stork in deep snow is really a rare view. It is however nothing strange to inhabitants of the village of Gryzy near Olecko, north-eastern Poland. The ‘local’ bird broke a bone two years ago, so it couldn’t migrate with the rest of its flock to warmer climes. It now lives permanently in Gryzy.

The white stork (Ciconia ciconia), a huge migrating bird, spends spring and summer in northern Europe where it nests, while for the winter it goes back to Africa and the Middle East. North-eastern Poland is a beloved region for the species, as the lakes and marshy land provide a lot of food for the carnivorous bird. However, with the advance of autumn, storks decide to leave for warmer climes.

The “marauders”, like the one in Gryzy, survive with human help. Happily for the storks, local superstition claims that the birds are beneficial for the villagers’ prosperity, especially... preserving fertility in families. Regardless of whether people today actually believe this, the storks often nest close to village houses having no fear of humans.