Joris van Alphen Photography

Into the Wild

How the French Revolution Almost Made the White Stork Go Extinct

Posted February 21, 2013. Filed under: Biology, Conservation, Nature, Photography. Leave a comment.

Three white stork (Ciconia ciconia) take to the air.

Three white stork (Ciconia ciconia) take to the air. Picardie, France.

After the French revolution, the story goes, the white stork went practically extinct in France over the course of just a single hunting season. Before the revolution, the right to hunt had been reserved for the nobility. Unfortunately, the newly acquired equal rights to hunt would not have come with equal marksmanship, and the stork was an easy target.

Whether the story is true or not, breeding programs in the last decades, notably in the Netherlands, have brought a steady recovery of the stork population. And indeed the aluminum rings on the legs of two birds in this image suggest that these individuals may have come from such a program. They are part of a group of nine that, according to a man who works there, have spent the past month at a landfill in France. There is lots of food lying around on a landfill, so despite the smell it may not seem like such a bad place to spend the winter to a stork.

Just a quick snapshot taken from the car as I was passing by, but I wanted to share something fresh with you and can’t show anything from my current project just yet. For a really spectacular photo of stork on a landfill, though, check out this image by Jasper Doest.

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