12 August 2008

White stork in Turkey

When he wasn't dealing with the mosquitos of Asia Minor back in the spring of 1765, Richard Chandler was touring the countryside and taking notes for his subsequent book Travels in Asia Minor: Or An Account of a Tour Made at the Expense of the Society of Dilettanti.

On the west coast of Turkey he encountered white storks (Ciconia ciconia) to which he referred as cranes. This is what he wrote about them:

The cranes were now arrived at their respective quarters, and a couple had made their nest, which is bigger in circumference than a bushel, on a dome close by our chamber. This pair stood, side by side, with great gravity, shewing no concern at what was transacting beneath them, but at intervals twisting about their long necks, and clattering with their beaks turned behind them upon their backs, as it were in concert...The crane is tall, like a heron, but much larger; the body white, with black pinions, the neck and legs very long, the head small, and the bill thick. The Turk call it friend and brother, believing it has an affection for their nation, and will accompany them into the countries they shall conquer. In the course of our journey, we saw one hopping on a wall with a single leg, the maimed stump wrapped in linen.
I don't know about conquering other countries, but the white storks have maintained their special relationship with the country folks of Anatolia.


Almost every village in Turkey probably has at least one stork nest on a tall building, a minaret or even a lamp post. I photographed these 2 nests in a village in southwest Turkey in May 2007. I don't really know how wide a "bushel" would be, but the nest in the photograph below was indeed quite large. Interestingly, it appears to be getting some structural support from the electric cables. I wonder what they would do if they needed to make repairs or replace the cables.


In Turkey, the storks or their nests are almost never maltreated. Unfortunately, however, according to this report, the breeding population of the white stork in Turkey may have declined in recent years.


Michael said...

I live in an area with many fruit farms and still see old time bushel baskets on occasion - they are about 18 inches in diameter. That nest is MANY bushels.

Katie said...

I do believe that the same special relationship exists between the storks and the villagers in Hungary.