The Hellenic Wildlife Hospital (EKPAZ), on the isle of Aegina near Athens, is the largest centre of its kind in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean.
A large number of the centre’s patients are white storks, which most often end up there as a result of injuries caused by flying into power lines. Many of the birds recover after treatment and return to the wild, although some of them – still too weak to leave the island – remain at the centre. Those storks move and fly freely all over the island.
A few years ago several of those storks formed breeding pairs and built their nests on top of the aviaries. The young from these pairs leave their family nests and fly off to unknown destinations. The observation of storks at the centre over several years hasn’t resulted in the confirmed return of any of those healthy storks – the offspring of injured parents – with the aim of staying there or building a nest.
Interest in learning more about the fate of the young storks from the isle of Aegina led to the idea of ringing them. Ringing recovery data could explain a great deal. Six potential highflyers – young storks from three nests – were ringed. The young birds were ringed by the author with the help of volunteers from the centre, with the hope that the procedure will be continued in years to come.