Which bird is considered the symbol of Belarus? A bird that denotes peace, love, and childbirth. Of course, it is the stork, and thousands of storks make Belarus their home.
Beginning in the spring and ending in late summer, storks fly into the sky above Belarusian villages, from their nests on the roofs of rural farmhouses. Locals often place platforms on roofs or poles, so that it is easier for the birds to roost. In Belarus, a large number of storks arrive, specifically for the purpose of nesting.
Storks are a fantastic symbol of this small country, as in a very minimal area of 60 miles, up to 100 pair of storks can live and nest together! The larger villages can even accommodate over a dozen nests. These storks overwinter in warmer areas like South Africa, but return home around March. After a hard journey of thousands of miles, male storks are able to find their nests from the previous year.
A few days later, they are joined by their female companions, with whom they mate for life. Right away, they begin fixing their nests. Next, mating occurs and afterwards the laying of eggs. Males and females alternately incubate their eggs. Chicks appear only a month later and, for their parents, a busy season ensues.
These large, beautiful birds only live in places where there is a plethora of food. Safety during nesting is only part of a stork’s problem, since they must feed their ever-hungry young. Little chicks are difficult to satiate, requiring many worms and insects. However, just two months later, the chicks fledge and try to fly away.
Only the strongest young storks will be able to take part in the fall migration. Due to sibling competition, the weakest chicks often fall out of the nest and do not survive. The parents do not help these chicks. In fact, parents can even push out extra chicks from their nest, if there is not enough available food.
Storks do not sing. Their “song” is essentially the snapping of their beaks. The chicks try to imitate their parents by communicating this way, despite the fact that their beaks are still too soft for actual snapping. The sounds are heard from the nests every morning and evening. Locals really can make do without alarm clocks, since the storks will never fail to wake them up at sunrise.
Once upon a time, the birds settled in forest trees. However, as the marshes were drained, the food supply declined, and storks increasingly settled closer to humans. They could be found feeding in fields and pastures. This is because in the uncut tall grass of wild pastures, finding insects is much more difficult than in agricultural lands and pastures, where grass is much shorter.
The birds are now used to finding food in the farmlands, and they willingly settle side by side with humans. Official accounts of white storks indicate that their nesting habitats are human homesteads, neighboring food plains and open marshes.
However, this does not mean that storks are unable to live in wild surroundings, independent of humans. There is a colony of white storks inhabiting Belovezhskaya Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This colony is not only impressive in its number of residents, but also because the storks do not build their nests on man-made platforms, as is common in residential areas, but on the sides of trees, in a very special way. There is even a unique tree with eight white stork nests!
In the center of any Belarusian’s heart lies the stork, which is called busel, and this bird holds a special place there. Storks are a part of many superstitions, omens and traditions, and are an important part of village life. Most residents do not mind having a nest on their roofs. Belarusians believe that where storks settle, there are often more children born. Many Belarusians also say that storks bring the spring with them and often link good events to these wonderful, feathery neighbors.
In the center of any Belarusian’s heart lies the stork, which is called busel, and this bird holds a special place there. Storks are a part of many superstitions, omens and traditions, and are an important part of village life. Most residents do not mind having a nest on their roofs.