A new study shows that some white storks in Europe are choosing the option of staygration. These big birds are skipping the annual trip to African grounds for remaining year round in Portugal and Spain owing to their addiction to junk food at landfills. This study was published in Movement Ecology on March 16, 2016.

University of East Angelia’s conservation ecologist, Aldina Franco states that white storks are wholly migratory. Before 1980s, no white storks stayed in Portugal and Spain.

He further says that during 1980s the first individuals started saying and now, there has been an exponential increase in the numbers.  For example, the resident stork population has increased from 1,187 birds to 14,000. 80% of storks wintering in the region are seen congregating near the landfills.

He says that the landfill sites  facilitate the storks that stay in those breeding sites all year round since they have a reliable and fantastic source all year round.

For this study, 48 birds were caught and fitted with GPS devices. Over several years, it has been revealed by the data that storks used to live permanently in the landfill nests and guard those desirable locations. In this research, avian lifestyles revolving around trash were also revealed.

Storks that lived farther away also visited landfills for a feast and some flew distances up to 30 miles.  Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Andrew Farnsworth says that it is good to have detailed accounts of how new resources are being exploited by the birds.

It is exciting to see how such changes affect the future population of these birds. For example, there might be advantages and disadvantages of skipping migration, especially during mating.  Stay at home birds have an advantage since they are ready to breed as soon as mating season starts.

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