The rattling noises increase, the nests are taken possession of again: The first white storks have returned to the NaturZoo Rheine.
With around 120 pairs, the NaturZoo grounds are home to the largest stork colony in North Rhine-Westphalia, perhaps even Germany, during the breeding season. Around 35 storks remain in Rheine during the winter, while by far the majority fly south.
The first returnees arrived in the first days of February. Some can be recognized by the fact that their plumage is not bright white, but dirty gray. It is believed that such are “garbage dump storks”, that is, those that have wintered in Spain and have foraged there on garbage dumps, causing pollution.
The returnees take possession of the existing nests, mostly those in which they had bred the previous year. Some start laying eggs as late as February, but the peak of the storks’ arrival and the actual start of the breeding season does not take place until early March.