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Greece’s European Stork Village Celebrates Return Of Migratory Birds

Greece storks
Credit: AMNA

Greece celebrates the annual return of the majestic storks from Africa on June 4th with a special festival held at the Greek European Stork Village in Poros Ferron in northeastern Greece.

After three years of absence during the pandemic, this year’s Stork Festival is devoted to the return of the white storks. The species is the symbol of bird migration.

“After more than a decade of ringing, we have realized that our white storks return back to their birthplace”, the festival’s announcement reads.

In the European Stork Village, the protection of the white storks has been a main concern for local inhabitants and authorities since 2016.

Annual Stork Festival in Northeastern Greece

The 5th Stork Festival started Friday, June 3rd with activities addressed to organized school groups while Saturday’s schedule is open to the public.

The festival takes place at the yard of the old school and the village’s main square, featuring presentations, narrations, educational games, ringing of storks, a chess tournament, a cycling tour, and other activities.

The village of Poros in the Evros area, was declared the 2016 European Stork Village by the EuroNatur Foundation, following its nomination by representatives of the European Environmental Agency.

The prize was awarded as a result of the village’s commitment to protecting storks and preserving the Greek natural landscape through a series of integrated proposals for future actions concerning the protection of the species. The village was also recognized for raising awareness in the local community and visitors alike.

The declaration of Poros as a European Stork Village was achieved after years of monitoring the species, installing transmitters, and repairing artificial nests.

As white storks mainly nest on electricity poles, local conservation actions have included the insulation of electric wires against electrocution, creation of new insulated electric wires, and maintenance of old nesting platforms and poles.

Evros Delta a significant wetland of the Mediterranean

Poros Feron is situated on the spot where Evros River begins to split and creates the Evros Delta. Its wetland is formed in the estuaries of Evros River, the biggest river in the Balkan Peninsula.

It is a national park, designated as a Ramsar site, and protected under European and national laws.

According to the European Network of Stork Villages, Evros Delta is one of the most important wetlands in the Mediterranean, especially for migrating and wintering birds.

“Wet meadows, agricultural land, rice fields and temporary freshwater marshes are the main habitats near the village. The storks mainly forage in wet meadows in the Evros Delta National Park and in wet meadows, agricultural land and pastures near the villages of Poros and Feres,” it is said.

Stork symbolism in ancient Greece

“Since ancient times, Greeks believed that when the old storks lose strength to hunt and feathers to warm them, then the young storks would hunt to feed the elders and pluck their own feathers to cover up and warm their parents,” the EuroNatur Network adds.

The EuroNatur Foundation’s European Stork Villages Network website claims that “The belief of this…sacrifice was so widespread in [traditional cultures], that the law in ancient Greece which oblige[d] children to nurse their parents [was] known as the…Pelargonia…or…Pelargish Law,” as the Greek word for stork is ‘pelargos.’

On the other hand, the name of the village of Poros means passage, and it can be linked to white storks, as hundreds of birds have passed through the area for centuries during migration.

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