Storks in Turkey

Hundreds of thousands of storks and large birds of prey from eastern Europe cross the Bosporus at Istambul in a narrow stream, forming one of world’s great migration spectacles, before spreading out over Turkey and down into Africa,


The storks are probabely the migratory birds which can feel the safest in Anatolia. In the countries which they cross on migration they are hunted everywhere. However, they are known as „pilgrim birds“ in Turkey, so that they are regarded as guests in Anatolia. Unlike other birds they build their nests on village houses, mosques and electric poles.

Eastern European White Stork Populations Lots of details here on migration routes

  • In eastern Europe, Turkey and Egypt, White Storks winter irregularly and mainly individually

Number of storks on decline in Turkey According to Professor Mehmet Serez the number of storks in Turkey is decreasing every year.

Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Serez said while there were 900,000 stork couples in Turkey in the 1960s, the number has decreased to 200,000 couples recently. Noting that there are various causes for this decline, Serez said the leading reason is a decrease in houses with tile roofing and chimneys. “In the past, there used to be a stork nest on the roof of every house in Turkey. However, the number of these birds has decreased day by day. Houses used to be built with tiled roofs, and they used to have chimneys in the past. There were not electric wires either, and storks were able to make a safe landing. From the 1960s onwards, these houses started to decrease in number. More electric wires surrounded houses, which made it harder for storks to nest,” he said.

SNAIL’S TALES: White stork in Turkey

In 1765, Richard Chandler toured Turkey researching his 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: He writes

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.

Bospherus migration tour

Istanbul lies at the crossroads between Europe and Asia and sits upon the migration route for hundreds of thousands of storks, raptors and other migrants as they track south towards Africa. The surrounding geography funnels, and concentrates, these birds over the narrow waters of the Bosphorus creating one of world’s great migration spectacles. This holiday aims to catch the peak of the migration during a 6-night stay in Istanbul. From here we can enjoy birdwatching visits to the nearby Camlica Hills and explore the rich cultural attractions of this historic city such as the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. We break our stay in Istanbul with 2 nights at Bursa whist we explore Mount Uluda? in search of Red-fronted Serin and Krüper’s Nuthatch.

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