Stunning white storks ready to deliver after building a nest in a Norfolk chimney

The White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) nesting in a chimney at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Filby, Photo by Joe Blossom. The White Storks (Ciconia ciconia) nesting in a chimney at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Filby, Photo by Joe Blossom.

Monday, March 31, 2014
4:51 PM

Excitement is mounting at a Norfolk wildlife haven where white storks are nesting on an 18th century chimney.

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White stork

Tall and slender, the white stork (Ciconia ciconia) has a distinctive long neck, bright red bill, long legs and black wing feathers.

Measuring up to 125 cm (50in) tall, they have a wing span of about 155-200cm (61-79in) and feed on snakes, lizards, fish and insects.

A migatory bird, the stork usually breeds in the warmer parts of continental Europe, will spend most winters in Africa and return to the UK in spring.

They have been building their nests on man-made structures since the middle ages and the same pair will often return to the same site every years.

Those nests can weigh up to a ton and cause chimneys to collapse.

Long associated with fertility and fidelity, the myth of storks delivering babies down the chimney is worldwide - it is thought to have come from the way they nest on rooftops and so close to humans as well as the bond breeding pairs form.

Adult storks care for their young even after they have fledged which led to a belief the young birds were taking care of their parents. The story is thought to explain why an ancient Greek law about taking care of your parents was called the Pelargonia, from pelargos, a stork.

The white storks, part of the collection at Thrigby Hall Wildlife Gardens in Filby, near Great Yarmouth, could be the first pair to successfully breed in the UK for hundreds of years.

The white stork breeds mainly in continental Europe, migrating to Africa in winter. The distinctive birds nest close to human habitation, often creating their nests on chimneys, rooftops or telegraph poles, but this is only the third time in 600 years they have been recorded nesting in this traditional way in the UK.

Ken Sims, director of Thrigby Hall, said: “We gave the storks a helping hand by building a structure for their nest on the hall’s front chimney, but they turned their back on our handiwork and have built their own nest on one of the rear stacks.

“They have definitely mated and are very busy, so we’ll be keeping a close eye over the next month or so to see if they begin feeding activities, which will mean that chicks have arrived.”

Records show that in 1416, a pair of white storks nested on Edinburgh’s St Giles Cathedral.

More recently, in 2004, a pair attempted to nest on a pylon in West Yorkshire.

5 comments

  • Thought this was an april fools joke.

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    gerry mitson

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • Love Thrigby and the monkeys have a fantastic huge area to run and swing around in!

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    catalonia13

    Monday, March 31, 2014

  • I agree with Daisy Roots about these not being wild birds. It is similar to Pensthorpe releasing captive bred Common Cranes to mix with wild birds All this is doing is interfering for commercial reasons Peter Waller - "A darn good day out"? - you are missing the point Better the money is spent on controlling Canada and Greylag Geese, muntjac Deer and Grey Squirrels. If only people took more interest in preserving our dwindling natural species that are under threat such as song thrushes, water vole, swifts etc

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    MarkMyWords

    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

  • Daisy Roots, I don't know what your problem is but I think you are wrong. I have photographs that clearly show the tigers in a more than ample pen. A darn good day out in my opinion.

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    peter waller

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014

  • There was me thinking we had real wild storks in Norfolk and they are captives at a seedy zoo which keeps big cats in miniscule and dingy pens and monkeys equally cramped The EDP should be ashamed of giving the oxygen of publicity to such a grotty place which uses being part of breeding programmes to justify its existence but is really just a tourist venue for Yarmouth and East Norfolk. Kessingland and Banham will tax your conscience less if you really need to visit a zoo.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, March 31, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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