Stork country

The area known as Alsace, a very peculiar place that has changed hands between France and Germany over the course of several wars, is famous in France for being the home of most French storks.

We visited Alsace last week and didn’t hope to see any–they do migrate, after all, and it’s not nesting season. In a shop where I bought an embroidery kit featuring a traditional stork pattern (I know, I know…), I was told that storks actually annoy people around there. They’re huge and noisy and their nests weight up to half a ton, so they can easily destroy a roof, it seems–and some of them do stay all winter, what with global warming and all. Still, I would love to see storks try to destroy my roof…

Taking a late-evening walk with a friend, however, he suddenly pointed towards the roof of a very posh house. There, on a platform specially installed for such an occasion, was a massive nest, and by massive I do mean absolutely huge. On the nest were two tall, lanky, entirely still birds.

‘Oh, wow,’ I said. ‘But… are they real?’

I’ve never seen anyone laugh like that. To my friend, it was a very funny idea to put fake storks on a roof: the birds are so common people don’t even look at them anymore. To me, it was like suddenly being in another country. They looked so beautiful someone might as well have put fake ones there on purpose.

Eventually they started moving, and there wasn’t a doubt left. We walked back home, and I thought about the little nesting boxes I recently bought for the blue and black tits back home. People who build whole platforms for five-hundred-kilos stork nests take the commitment to quite another level. I’m very fond of my tiny birds back home, but I will keep treasured memories of stork country.

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