IberiaNature A guide to the natural history of Spain
By Nick Lloyd - Home - Contact

White Stork in Spain

Record Spanish stork population

A record number of White Storks have been counted this year in Spain according to the VI International White Stork Census organised by Spanish birders, SEO. 32,923 storks were recorded, almost double the 1994 figure. As a result, the bird has been removed from the just-updated Red Book of Spanish Birds (see article here).
According to bird experts the rise is due to a number of factors. Firstly, white storks in Spain are migrating less and less, with the consequent saving of a dangerous and exhausting journey. In the past, just about all storks would fly south to Africa in the summer, and return to the Peninsula at the end of the winter. In the last 20 years white storks have begun to stay here all year round. In 2004, some 32,000 stayed over in comparison with 7,500 in 1995. 70 odd percent are concentrated in Castilla La Mancha with 11,723 storks and Extremadura with 11,190 (see below for breadown by regions). The weather may have played a role but the key factor seems to be the availability of an easy food source, namely rubbish tips. Unfortunately for the bird this bounty may be coming to an end as rubbish tips are being replaced up and down the country by incineration plants. Local stork feeding initiatives may however compensate.
Another important factor is the huge rise in environmental awareness among the general public. Storks are clear beneficiaries of this, often being seen as an object of local pride. Linked to this is the improvement of water quality in many (though not all) wetland areas in the last 20 years together with specific stork reintroduction programmes (for example, the exemplary scheme organised by Els Aiguamolls del Empordà in Catalonia. More specifically this year, a damp spring in Spain, followed by a wet summer in part of the breeding areas in Africa have also boosted their number (the latter for those which could be bothered making the trip). Finally, less storks are being electrocuted on lines and pylons due to bird-friendly adaptations. A word of warning though. SEO urges caution as threats still exist. Much of the mains network has not been adapted and electrocution is still the most common cause of unnatural death. Another concern (for the storks that is) is the increasing intensification of North-African agriculture. Finally, nobody knows how the removal of the favourite rubbish tips will effect them, and other bird populations.

Traditionally, babies came from Paris brought by Frenchmen, but with Disneyisation storks are also held responsible these days

A white stork in Spanish is a cigüeña blanca. It Catalan its simply a cigonya

Source: España ha duplicado el número de parejas de Cigüeña Blanca en la última década (SEO)

Census of Number of White Stork pairs in Spain

Provincia / Comunidad Autónoma 1994 2004
Almería 0 0
Cádiz 285 692
Córdoba 362 391
Granada 0 0
Huelva 468 904
Jaén 10 28
Málaga 0 3
Sevilla 426 1.391
Andalucía 1.551 3.409
Huesca 175 670
Teruel 2 9
Zaragoza 162 526
Aragón 339 1.205
Baleares 0 0
Canarias 0 0
Cantabria 79 175
Asturias 0 1
Albacete 0 1
Ciudad Real 641 1.493
Cuenca 0 0
Guadalajara 25 44
Toledo 339 777
Castilla La Mancha 1.005 2.315
Ávila 441 1.261
Burgos 140 383
León 1.321 2.799
Palencia 271 855
Salamanca 1.254 2.627
Segovia 735 1.593
Soria 73 261
Valladolid 267 363
Zamora 695 1.581
Castilla y León 5.197 11.723
Barcelona 0 0
Tarragona 0 6
Girona 5 56
Lleida 50 210
Cataluña 55 272
Badajoz 3.112 4.155
Cáceres 4.396 7.035
Extremadura 7.508 11.190
A Coruña 0 2
Lugo 19 142
Ourense 37 112
Pontevedra 0 0
Galicia 56 256
La Rioja 168 499
Madrid 582 1.221
Murcia 0 0
Navarra 95 621
Alicante 0 0
Castellón 0 0
Valencia 0 0
País Valenciano 0 0
Álava 7 32
Guipúzcoa 0 0
Vizcaya 1 4
País Vasco 8 36
Total 16.643 32.923

Translation white stork : cigüeña blanca (sp): cigonya (Cat): Ciconia ciconia


See also

See also News on Birds in Spain

alpine accentor - alpine swift - aquatic warbler - arctic skua -arctic tern - Atlantic puffin - Audouin's gull - avocet - azure-winged magpie