Oscar R. Window |
Valladolid (EFE).- Just a few days after the Spanish proverb makes us look at the bell tower to see if we see storks in San Blas -February 3-, confident that this will determine if we are going to have a “year of snow”, The Spanish Ornithological Society (SEO-Bird Life) already has its sights set on 2024, when it intends to answer a question that has not had a scientific answer for 20 years: How many storks are there in Spain?
“The saying no longer makes sense,” confesses in a conversation with EFE the ornithologist Blas Molina, one of those responsible for SEO to mobilize hundreds of volunteers and associations that collaborate in carrying out this type of census at the national level, without reference in the case of storks since 2004, when there were some 33,000 pairs in Spain.
The economic crisis prevented updating it in 2014, when it was impossible to gather sufficient resources to undertake this count in a rigorous way, so that in that year what SEO did was an estimate with the available data.
In the absence of this rigorous data, ornithologists calculated that the evolution of the species in Spain had been positive in that decade (2004-2014) by reaching 42,000 pairs, thus further removing this species from the risk of disappearance that its species does have. closest relative, the black stork, with some 386 pairs recorded in SEO’s III Atlas of Birds (https://atlasaves.seo.org/ave/ciguena-blanca/).
The challenge now is to verify how the main threats observed by Blas Molina have affected the white stork population: the closure of garbage dumps, the loss of agricultural irrigation and the proliferation of extensive agriculture, with the massive use of chemicals that end up with the biodiversity that these and other birds feed on, such as grasshoppers and other insects.
Experts confirm that some nuclei where storks usually bred in Spain have disappeared, but the general feeling that they hope to verify with the census is that the population has at least been maintained in recent years.
The proverb and the Strait of Gibraltar
No, storks don’t handle calendars, they don’t even know who San Blas was. Despite the fact that Blas Molina points out that there are no scientific studies that link the presence of these birds to the fact that there is going to be a “snow year”, the popular belief is based on the fact that if bad weather comes, the arrival of the stork may be delayed. the towns of the interior of Spain.
However, this theory has a trick. The expert has indicated that, regardless of the weather that will be in the place where the proverb is pronounced, what is important is what happens in the Strait of Gibraltar, especially whether or not there is an easterly wind, since it is soaring birds.
In addition, the observation of ornithologists reduces pressure to the “deadline” of February 3, since “between December and January almost all the nests” have pairs of tenants who begin their courtship, with a special presence in Castilla y León and Extremadura .
German and Swiss storks
But another piece of information that must be taken into account when analyzing the presence of storks in the Spanish winter is that while the youngest couples -up to 3 years old- tend to emigrate to North Africa and even to the south of the Sahara, the adults can settle in irrigated areas of the southeast of the peninsula and thus coexist with the «Central European» storks.
In this sense, Blas Molina has detailed that the presence of birds from Germany or Switzerland has been proven, for which it is enough to descend to Spain to obtain a less severe temperature, so they can lead to the mistaken idea that they are animals. who either have not emigrated or have already returned.
What the SEO representative also asks for collaboration is to prevent the cleaning of nests in temples and other buildings from taking place precisely at the moment in which these birds have young, something that has caused problems in recent years, according to Molina. , who asks the Town Halls to program these works in September.