Junk Food-Loving Birds Diss Migration, Live on Landfill
Spain and Portugal's white storks are forgoing their annual journeys to African wintering grounds, a new study says.
You've heard of the staycation. Some white storks in Europe are now opting for the staygration.
The big birds are skipping their annual trip to African wintering grounds to remain year-round in Spain and Portugal, a new study shows.
Why? They've developed an addiction to junk food at landfills.
“White storks used to be wholly migratory. Before the 1980s, there were no white storks staying in" Spain and Portugal, says study leader Aldina Franco, a conservation ecologist at the University of East Anglia in the U.K.
“During the 1980s, the first individuals started staying, and now we see those numbers increasing exponentially." (Related: "Beloved Storks, Emblems of Fertility, Rebounding in France.")
For instance, Portugal's resident stork population has grown from just 1,187 birds in 1995 to some 14,000, Franco says. And 80 percent of storks that winter in the region congregate near landfills.
"We think these landfill sites facilitated