Ukrainians have a special attitude to storks. Many folk beliefs and legends are connected to them. A legend tells about the event that happened in the time of Mongol and Tatar raids. At that time Cossacks left women, children, and elderly at home and set out to defend their land from the enemies. Tatars, who took Ukrainian women captive, closed children and elderly up in houses and burned the entire villages. On one such day a big flock of storks was soaring above a village. The elderly wrapped up the kids with swaddling cloth and gave them to the birds from windows. The birds carried the babies to a safe place in rostrums. Hence the expression “babies are brought by storks.”
These wonderful birds often settle close to people’s houses, and the owners of the households where storks settle are sure that storks bring luck. However, they are revered not only in Ukraine, but also in Poland, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Moldova, and other countries. People frequently help these birds out of trouble. They are easily domesticated and sometimes continue to live in the yard of their rescuer till the end of their lives. “They now need our attention and help,” methodologist of Ternopil Oblast Ecology-Naturalistic Center of Student Youth Myroslava Berezitska notes. Storks came to Ternopil region back on Sunday, when the weather was really wintry. Although March 19 is considered the official date of their return from warm countries, the birds traditionally come to the oblast on March 22-25, and to the northern part of the region – in early April. “Storks, soaring high in the sky, could be observed on March 17 in the vicinity of the oblast center. And on Monday resident of Velyky Khodachkiv, Kozova raion, reported to eco-center by phone that a big flock of these birds had headed towards Ternopil,” Myroslava Berezitska told The Day.
“But the great amount of snow in the fields is not going to melt soon, and the ponds are covered with ice. So, there is minimum access to food, for storks eat earthworms, frogs, small rodents, fish, hence we cannot use grain, or any other kinds of food the birds wintering in our country eat to feed them up. There have been instances when people who kept storks at home during winter fed them with capelin.” Ternopil ecologist hopes, those were stork males, who traditionally come to check whether the area is ready for the arrival of youngsters and females and subsequently lead the rest to southern Ukraine or Moldova, where the climate is much warmer.
Anatolii POLUDA, head of the Ukrainian Center of Bird Ringing, Ph.D. (Biology)
“Storks are quite strong, therefore there is no special problem for them: they have an opportunity to fly somewhat further to the south, where there is no solid snow cover. A few days ago, our fellow scientists from Prydunavie reported that they had simultaneously seen great multitudes – up to 1,000 white storks.
“On the whole the storks come to Ukraine relatively early. Usually in late March they turn up in Kyiv oblast. But because spring is not in a hurry this year, the birds have simply hold a halt to migration, waiting for normal weather conditions, and they can feed in their homeland. It is worse when storks come and take their old places of nesting, and it is even worse when the weather worsens already after they have laid eggs.”